Press Release

Horrific violations and abuses as fighting spreads - report

23 February 2024

New UN report details horrific violations and abuses by both sides as fighting spreads

GENEVA – The armed conflict in Sudan has resulted in thousands of civilians killed, millions displaced, property looted, and children conscripted, as fighting has spread to more regions of the country, says a wide-ranging report from the UN Human Rights Office.

The report details multiple indiscriminate attacks by both the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in densely populated areas, including sites sheltering internally displaced people - particularly in the capital Khartoum, as well as in Kordorfan and Darfur - during fighting between April and December 2023.

“For nearly a year now, accounts coming out of Sudan have been of death, suffering and despair, as the senseless conflict and human rights violations and abuses have persisted with no end in sight,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk.

“This report makes for yet more painful reading on the tragedy being needlessly inflicted on the Sudanese people since April 2023, but also underlines once more the dire need to end the fighting and to break the cycle of impunity that gave rise to this conflict in the first place. The guns must be silenced, and civilians must be protected. A credible re-start of inclusive talks to restore civilian-led government is desperately needed to open a path forward,” he said.

Just this week, credible video evidence reviewed by the UN Human Rights Office shows that several students travelling by road in North Kordofan State may have been beheaded by men in SAF uniform in El-Obeid City – the victims seen as being RSF supporters based on their perceived ethnicity. The video footage which was posted on social media on 15 February shows troops parading with decapitated heads in the street while chanting ethnic slurs.

The report is based on interviews with 303 victims and witnesses, including dozens conducted in Ethiopia and eastern Chad, as well as analysis of photographs, videos, and satellite imagery and other open source information. It shows that both parties to the conflict used explosive weapons with wide area effects, such as missiles fired from fighter jets, unmanned aerial vehicles, anti-aircraft weapons and artillery shells in densely populated areas.

In April, in two separate incidents in Khartoum, eight missiles fired by the SAF resulted in at least 45 civilian deaths. And in June, two artillery shells fired by the RSF hit Libya Souq, a market in Omdurman, killing at least 15 civilians. Later, on 28 September, RSF shells exploded in a bus station in Omdurman leaving at least 10 civilians dead.

In Darfur, thousands were killed in RSF attacks, some of which were ethnically motivated. The report finds that between May and November 2023, the RSF and its allied Arab militia carried out at least 10 attacks against civilians in El-Geneina, the capital of West Darfur, killing thousands of people, most of them from the African Masalit ethnic community. There were also killings by the RSF and its allies in the town of Morni and in Ardamata, where at least 87 bodies were buried in a mass grave.

By mid-December, more than 6.7 million people had been displaced by the conflict - both within Sudan and into neighbouring countries. This number has since increased to more than eight million.

The report reveals that by 15 December 2023, at least 118 people had been subjected to sexual violence, including rape, gang rape and attempted rape, among them 19 children. Many of the rapes, according to the report, were committed by RSF members, in homes and on the streets. One woman was held in a building and repeatedly gangraped over a period of 35 days. Only four victims of sexual violence were willing and able to report to the authorities, owing to stigma, distrust of the justice system, the collapse of the institutions of justice and fear of reprisals, says the report.

It cites the “People’s Authority to Support the Sudanese Armed Forces”, a pro-SAF entity, as stating that it had armed 255,000 young men in camps across Sudan. Children were also recruited by the RSF from Arab tribes in Darfur and Kordofan. African ethnic communities, including the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa also reportedly responded to recruitment campaigns by the SAF, the report finds.

“Some of these violations would amount to war crimes,” said Türk. “There must be prompt, thorough, effective, transparent, independent and impartial investigations into all allegations of violations and abuses of international human rights and violations of international humanitarian law and those responsible must be brought to justice.”

The High Commissioner also called on both parties to the conflict to ensure rapid and unimpeded access to humanitarian aid in all areas under their respective control.

Read the full report (Advance unedited version in English)

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