US-UN envoy meets Darfur refugees in Chad, pledges to ‘prevent mass atrocities’

West Darfuri refugees near the Chadian border town of Adré (File photo: UNHCR)

US envoy to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, visited Sudan’s border town of Adré in Chad to meet with Sudanese refugees escaping ethnic and sexual violence in West Darfur, on Wednesday. During her visit, she conveyed the US’s commitment in preventing and responding to mass atrocities.

The envoy confirmed targeted sanctions against Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces (RSF) on her visit. The sanctions are specifically directed at Abdelrahim Dagalo deputy leader of Sudan’s paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and brother of the group’s commander, Mohamed ‘Hemedti’ Dagalo, for alleged human rights abuses in Sudan.

Since the start of hostilities between the RSF and the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) on April 15, 2023, the RSF has been under intense scrutiny for allegations of severe violence and human rights violations, encompassing civilian massacres, ethnically motivated killings, and incidents of sexual violence.

She also met with seven Sudanese women in Adré, who told her about the circumstances during which they fled severe violence. Thomas-Greenfield told Reuters, “All of them came to Chad for fear of what might happen to them. None of them expressed a feeling or even a desire to return home as long as the violence continued.”

She continued, saying, “I felt despair because I felt unable to do anything for them, and I could not provide an answer on how the international community could help them.”

Thomas-Greenfield visited a temporary hospital run by the charity Doctors Without Borders, which is treating about 144 patients, most of whom suffer from malnutrition. While she was passing through one part of the hospital, she encountered a woman slowly feeding a malnourished child, along with a sick child lying alone in a nearby bed.

“We have certainly reached a level of serious atrocities that strongly reminds us of what we witnessed in 2004 and led us to describe it as genocide,” Thomas-Greenfield said before arriving in Chad.

She continued, saying, “We hear about women being subjected to brutal gang rape repeatedly, villages being raided, and there are pictures showing mass graves. The evidence is there.”