UNITAMS ‘gravely concerned’ about the violence in Darfur

Janjaweed in Darfur (File photo)

The UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) yesterday expressed its serious concerns about the severe impact of the fighting between the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) supported by Arab gunmen and the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) on the people in Darfur.

In a statement on Thursday, Spokesperson Florence Marchal said that UNITAMS “strongly condemns the indiscriminate targeting of civilian populations and public facilities by the RSF and allied militias”, particularly in Sirba, 45km north of the West Darfur, capital El Geneina, capital of West Darfur, in end July. The Mission is also concerned by similar incidents in Nyala, South Darfur, and Zalingei, Central Darfur.

“I am alarmed by reports indicating that civilians are being prevented from leaving for safer areas, resulting in numerous casualties. These reports are reminiscent of the violations committed in El Geneina, West Darfur, last June”, Volker Perthes, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and Head of UNITAMS said.

“We are documenting all the violations and I recall that these heinous acts are serious violations of the human rights of civilians and may constitute war crimes under international law. I remind all parties involved to uphold their obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law to ensure the safety and protection of all civilians,” he added.

UNITAMS urges all forces engaged in hostilities to cease their military operations immediately and call on them to resume the Jeddah-facilitated talks and reaffirms its commitment to support and facilitate efforts towards a peaceful resolution of the conflict throughout Sudan.

“We stand in solidarity with the people of Darfur and remain dedicated to achieving lasting peace and stability in the region”, Perthes concluded.

People living in Darfur, in particular West Darfur and the western part of Central Darfur, do not only suffer from battles between the SAF and RSF, but also from widespread attacks by RSF and large groups of Arab militants and other allied tribesmen, who, like most of the RSF paramilitaries belong to Arab herders’ tribes, and are called janjaweed by the Darfuri.

Recurrent attacks on El Geneina, in particular on people belonging to the Masalit tribe, since end April, has left thousands of them killed. Thousands fled to eastern Chad. The violence then spread to Misterei and Sirba in West Darfur. Joint attacks by RSF troops and militant tribesmen were also reported from Zalingei, capital of Central Darfur, Kass in South Darfur, and Kutum in North Darfur.