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Sudan: civilians living in ‘unimaginable horror’

August 3, 2023 at 12:51 pm

People gather to protest against framework agreement signed between the military and civilians, which aims to resolve the governance crisis that has been going on since 25 October 2021 in Khartoum, Sudan on April 06, 2023 [Mahmoud Hjaj – Anadolu Agency]

Civilians are living in “unimaginable horror” in Sudan, where the army and the Rapid Support Forces have been fighting since 15 April, Amnesty International has said in its latest report, “Death Came to our Door”. The human rights group points out that there have been “mass civilian casualties in both deliberate and indiscriminate attacks by the warring parties.”

The report focuses on Khartoum and the Darfur region in the west of the country, and is based on telephone interviews with 181 people in eastern Chad.

“Civilians throughout Sudan are suffering unimaginable horror every single day as the Rapid Support Forces and Sudanese Armed Forces vie recklessly for control of territory,” said Agnes Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

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The war between the army, led by Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, and the Rapid Support Forces, led by Mohammad Hamdan Dagalo, has killed more than 3,900 people, according to the NGO ACLED, which collects real-time data on conflicts. The UN has put the number of Sudanese displaced at around four million.

“People are being killed inside their homes, or while desperately searching for food, water and medicine. They are being caught in crossfire while fleeing and shot deliberately in targeted attacks,” explained Callamard. “Scores of women and girls, some as young as 12, have been raped and subjected to other forms of sexual violence by members of the warring sides. Nowhere is safe.”

Attacks have targeted hospitals and churches, and there has been extensive looting. “The spiralling violence in the region of Darfur, where the RSF and allied militias are causing untold death and destruction, is raising the spectre of the scorched earth campaign of previous decades, at times involving some of the same actors,” added the Amnesty official.

The report noted that many health and humanitarian facilities have been destroyed or damaged across the country, depriving civilians of food and medicine, and exacerbating an already dire situation. “Most documented cases of looting involved RSF members,” it pointed out. “Intentional attacks on humanitarian personnel or objects, or on health facilities or medical units, amount to war crimes.”

Amnesty called on the UN Security Council to extend the arms embargo currently in place in Darfur to include the whole of Sudan, and to ensure that it is respected.

“The international community should [also] significantly increase humanitarian support for Sudan, and neighbouring countries must ensure their borders are open to civilians seeking safety,” said Callamard. “Countries with significant leverage over the warring parties must use their influence to end the violations.”

The organisation ended the report by saying that, “The Human Rights Council should heed the calls from the Intergovernmental Authority on Development and establish an independent investigative and accountability mechanism to monitor, collect and preserve evidence of human rights violations in Sudan.”

READ: UN: Hunger, displacement spiralling out of control in Sudan amid ongoing violence