The United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Alice Wairimu Nderitu, has expressed “alarm” at the renewed escalation of violence between the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and affiliated militias in Darfur over the past two weeks.
Particularly with regard to events in Nyala, El Geneina, and Zalingei, Nderitu is “extremely concerned at the serious allegations of mass killings in an area housing a camp for displaced families in Ardamata, El Geneina, where more than 800 people were reportedly killed and 8,000 others fled to neighbouring Chad.”
On a statement yesterday, special adviser Nderitu laments that the number of displaced could be much higher due to reports of RSF blocking displaced civilians from crossing into Chad, and is also “alarmed at the reports of mass graves” believed to contain the remains of members of the ethnic Masalit tribe in the area.
‘The most recent developments in Ardamata and West Darfur constitute one more step in a cycle of violence that finds no end…’
“The most recent developments in Ardamata and West Darfur constitute one more step in a cycle of violence that finds no end. Violence since the initiation of hostilities by the SAF and the RSF in April this year has amounted to at least 9,000 people reportedly killed and more than 5.6 million people displaced, including at least 1.2 million fleeing to neighbouring countries,” said the Special Adviser. “There is no stop in the fighting and no stop in the suffering. This horrific level of violence, with all the signs of atrocity crimes being committed, is not new in the country and is part of a cyclical process which has lasted for decades. It is essential that the world pays attention and responds. This must not become a forgotten crisis,” the special adviser emphasised.
‘A number of these attacks, if confirmed, may constitute acts of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes…’
In the statement, Nderitu reiterates her strong condemnation of the appalling reports of grave human rights violations and abuses that continue being committed in the region and in the country, including identity-based killings, rape and other forms of sexual violence, torture, enforced disappearances, mass arrests and detention, bombings of civilian homes and infrastructures and lootings. A number of these attacks, if confirmed, may constitute acts of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
Nderitu renews her urgent call upon all warring parties to ensure that civilians are protected, in full respect not only of international human rights and humanitarian law, but also of the commitment the parties adopted at the Jeddah Declaration of Commitment to Protect the Civilians of Sudan.
The Special Adviser calls on all international, regional, and national actors, including the African Union, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development and the United Nations Security Council, to expedite efforts to find a solution to the crisis. This also includes efforts by national actors in the context of the ongoing Jeddah and Juba peace talks.
‘The latest reports from the Darfur region depict a deeply disturbing picture of continued systematic and indiscriminate attacks against civilians…’
“The latest reports from the Darfur region depict a deeply disturbing picture of continued systematic and indiscriminate attacks against civilians, including along ethnic lines, when the seven-month conflict has already seen a devastating number of deaths, injured and displaced persons. Current dynamics in the region could lead to further mass killings in an environment of complete lawlessness and impunity, The risks of genocide and related atrocity crimes in the region remain grimly high,” the special adviser states. “While the commitment expressed on 7 November by the warring parties in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to reaffirm their obligations to protect civilians and facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance constitutes a positive step, words must be urgently accompanied by actions. Vicious attacks against civilians must immediately and permanently cease.” Alluding to her previous statements of 8 September 2022, 3 November 2022, 13 June 2023 and 5 September 2023, the Special Adviser stressed that the violence, if unabated, could engulf the entire country, particularly amid the proliferation of illegal small arms and light weapons and the continuing clashes in the capital Khartoum, Kordofan and the Blue Nile states.
The Special Adviser also commended existing grassroots efforts by local religious and traditional leaders to bring people together and prevent inter-communal violence, and urged all international actors to spare no efforts in stabilizing the situation and protecting the populations at risk.