‘At least 990 cases of enforced disappearance in Sudan conflict’

Cartoon by Omar Dafallah (RD)

The Sudanese civil society group, Missing Initiative, report their staggering documentation regarding the ongoing conflict in Sudan, detailing a total of 990 cases of enforced disappearances since the conflict erupted between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF). Among the victims are 95 women and at least 50 children, according to the initiative’s latest report published yesterday.

Speaking to Radio Dabanga, the head of the Missing Initiative states they received reports of between five and 10 missing children per month. 

The civil society head acknowledged a decline in the monitoring and documentation process, attributing it to the dearth of communicative measures. The last report, published by the group on August 30, 2023, detailed 637 missing cases, with 16 individuals found dead and 44 reunited with their families.

Citing exceptional circumstances following the war, the report covered only the period from April 2023 to April 2024. The conflict has hindered monitoring efforts, compounded by communication disruptions. The initiative stressed that the actual number of disappearances exceeds the reported figure.

During June 2023, the initiative noted a peak in missing women, constituting 24 per cent of documented cases. Young individuals aged 20 to 35 comprised the largest demographic among the disappeared.

The report also emphasised challenges in documenting cases of sexual violence due to prevailing societal stigma.

According to them, despite their efforts using their Facebook page as a source of information, monitoring remains gruelling. The initiative underscored the plight of missing children, principally vulnerable in conflict areas. Whilst efforts have led to reunions, the conflict’s volatility muddles their follow-up measures.

In their report, they uncovered cases of abductions and forced conscription by the RSF, with victims, despite ransom payments, remaining unreleased.

The Missing Initiative also received credible reports indicating over 700 detainees, including media personnel, held captive in the National Radio and Television Corporation building in old Omdurman during the RSF’s occupation. 

Their report states some of those forcibly held in the building died due to torture and hunger, while others were used as human shields.

In March 2024, the SAF reclaimed the National Radio and Television Corporation building, publicly announcing no detainees were found. However, the fate of those previously held captive remains uncertain, deepening the distress for their families.

International organisations have advocated for action, stressing the urgent need for humanitarian support. Their suggestions include facilitating communication measures between detainees and their families, as well as wider cooperation with investigative bodies in addressing enforced disappearances.