Alice Wairimu Nderitu (pictured), the UN Special Adviser on Genocide Prevention has expressed deep concern over reports of mass killings in Darfur amid growing conflict between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces.
She notes that refugee camps in Ardamata and Geneina, with over 800 reported deaths and 8,000 fleeing to Chad, are particularly concerning.
The figures might be significantly greater, with reports indicating that RSF is preventing displaced civilians from entering the neighboring country, stated Nderitu in a released statement.
She expressed deep concern over the intensified conflict between Saf and RSF, along with their affiliated militias in Darfur, emphasizing areas like Nyala, Geneina, and Zalingei. There are accounts of mass graves suspected to hold members of the Masalit tribe in the region.
“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 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,” she said.
“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,” she added.
She denounced severe human rights violations persisting in the country, such as identity-based killings, rape, sexual violence, torture, enforced disappearances, mass arrests, detentions, bombings of civilian residences and infrastructure, and looting.
Nderitu highlighted that, if verified, these assaults could potentially amount to acts of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.
She urged the conflicting parties to guarantee the protection of civilians, adhering to international human rights and humanitarian law, as well as the commitment outlined in the Jeddah Declaration of Commitment to Protect the Civilians of Sudan.
“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 stated.
“While the commitment expressed on November 7 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 cease.”
Referring to her earlier statements on September 8, 2022, November 3, 2022, June 13, 2023, and September 5, 2023, the special adviser emphasized that if the ongoing violence persists, it has the potential to spread throughout the entire country.
This is exacerbated by the proliferation of illegal small arms and light weapons and the sustained clashes in Khartoum, Kordofan, and the Blue Nile states.
The influx of Sudanese refugees into neighboring countries has surged in the wake of renewed clashes, leaving thousands of civilians within the country at an increased risk of attacks. Furthermore, access to essential resources such as food, water, and health facilities remains constrained, partly due to intentional actions by paramilitary groups and militias.
Recalling her October visit to refugee camps in Chad and her interactions with refugees from West Darfur in Farchana and Adré, the Special Adviser reiterated serious concerns about targeted attacks on members of the ethnic Masalit community by the RSF and their allied militias, allegedly carried out with the explicit intent to annihilate the community.
“The voices of victims speak loud and clear,” underlined the Special Adviser.
“Men and boys of fighting age have reportedly been particularly targeted; rape and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence, including sexual slavery, have been rampantly perpetrated as a weapon of war; entire villages have been burnt, often with the plan to attack announced in advance; derogatory and dehumaniaing language – such as ‘slaves’ – has been persistently used as an element of incitement to violence.”
“ Conditions of life have been deprived, with medical facilities and transportation destroyed; and access to water and electricity deliberately obstructed. This all points to risk factors for genocide and related crimes.”