The brutality against civilians in Sudan has reached a point described as “verging on pure evil,” cautioned a senior UN official, marking the intensification of conflict seven months into the war involving the army and paramilitary forces.
“We keep saying that the situation is horrific and grim. But, frankly, we are running out of words to describe the horror of what is happening in Sudan,” Clementine Nkweta-Salami, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Sudan said.
“We continue to receive unrelenting and appalling reports of sexual and gender-based violence, enforced disappearance, arbitrary detentions and grave violations of human and children’s rights,” she disclosed to reporters.
“What is happening is verging on pure evil,” she expressed, citing distressing reports of young girls being subjected to rape in front of their mothers. Concerns are rising about the potential recurrence of the genocide witnessed in the early 2000s in this western Sudan region.
Since April, conflict has erupted between forces aligned with army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, Sudan’s de facto head of state, and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) led by his former deputy, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo.
The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) highlighted disturbing reports indicating that over 800 individuals have fallen victim to armed groups in Ardamata, West Darfur. This area, previously less impacted by the conflict, is now witnessing heightened violence.
“We have received these reports from new arrivals in Chad, these are refugees fleeing the Darfur area, that are talking about armed militia going from house to house killing men and boys,” spokesperson William Spindler told reporters in Geneva.
“These killings reportedly have happened in the last few days,” he added.
Ardamata, which includes a camp for internally displaced individuals in Sudan, has witnessed severe destruction, with almost 100 shelters demolished, and extensive looting reported, including UNHCR relief items.
Filippo Grandi, the head of UNHCR, echoed the caution expressed by Nkweta-Salami about the potential recurrence of the atrocities experienced two decades ago. During that period, the government of Omar al-Bashir deployed the Janjaweed militia in response to a rebel uprising.
“Twenty years ago, the world was shocked by the terrible atrocities and human rights violations in Darfur,” Grandi said in a statement. “We fear a similar dynamic might be developing.”
UNHCR is bracing for an influx of refugees from the region into Chad, which already hosts hundreds of thousands of Sudanese refugees.
The Sudan conflict has claimed over 10,000 lives, according to a conservative estimate by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data project.
But aid groups and medics have repeatedly warned the real toll exceeds recorded figures, with many of those wounded and killed never reaching hospitals or morgues.
The war has displaced over 4.8 million people within Sudan and has forced a further 1.2 million to flee into neighbouring countries, according to UN figures.