May 19, 2024

Escalating Violence in West Darfur Sparks Humanitarian Crisis, Amnesty International Cites War Crimes Similarities

The aftermath of an attack on the village of Masteri in west Darfur, Sudan Saturday, July 25, 2020. © 2020 Mustafa Younes via AP
The aftermath of an attack on the village of Masteri in west Darfur, Sudan Saturday, July 25, 2020. © 2020 Mustafa Younes via AP

 Amnesty International on Monday raised concerns over the escalating violence and alleged targeted killings in West Darfur. The international human rights organization accused the Rapid Security Forces (RSF) and associated Arab militias of targeting non-Arab residents, with a concentration of violence in and around El Geneina.

Tigere Chagutah, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East and Southern Africa, voiced alarm over alleged “ethnically-motivated targeted killings, sexual violence, widespread burning of homes, and mass displacement.” 

Chagutah likened the increasing violence to the war crimes and crimes against humanity that have haunted the Darfur region since 2003, where countless civilians seeking refuge were killed.

Amnesty International cited what it described as ‘credible’ reports of numerous casualties inflicted by the RSF and its allied militias, further exacerbating the situation.

 It said that on June 14, the Governor of West Darfur, Khamis Abakar, was captured and killed by RSF fighters shortly after publicly accusing the RSF of committing genocide in El Geneina. 

Abakar, who also led the Sudanese Alliance armed group, was allegedly dragged from his vehicle by RSF fighters, as seen in a video circulating on social media. A second video showed his deceased body with substantial injuries.

Today News Africa had not heard from the RSF at the time of writing this report.

The United Nations estimates that thousands have been killed or injured in the region since the conflict intensified in April 2023. 

Chagutah stressed the urgency of international support for humanitarian aid in Sudan at the High-Level Pledging Event. 

“The protection of civilians across the country must be the highest priority. The international community must urgently support the humanitarian response in Sudan and the Region at today’s High Level Pledging Event. Millions of Sudanese, both inside and outside the country, are depending on it,” Chagutah wrote in a statement.

Amnesty International reiterated its call for all parties involved in the conflict to adhere to international humanitarian law and immediately cease violations against civilians. The human rights organization also demanded that the RSF and its allied militias ensure safe passage for civilians fleeing the conflict.

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