West News Wire: Since the fight between the Sudanese army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) erupted on April 15, both international human rights organisations and the United Nations have denounced the crimes committed in Sudan.
The UN Security Council has been urged to report the crimes perpetrated by the two warring sides to the International Criminal Court (ICC) by dozens of human rights organisations, activists, lawyers, physicians, and others.
The Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the RSF, which is backed by Arab militias in Darfur, have committed atrocities, according to a statement issued on Thursday by the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS).
The statement condemned the indiscriminate targeting of civilian populations and public facilities by the RSF and allied militias, particularly in the locality of Sirba, which is 45kms north of West Darfur’s capital el-Geneina, between 24 and 26 July.
UNITAMS believes war crimes have been committed especially in Darfur, the vast region made up of five states in western Sudan.
News channels has been told by eyewitnesses who have fled Darfur that the RSF is specifically targeting members of the area’s non-Arab Masalit minority. Unburied bodies of the dead are accumulating on the streets of el-Geneina.
Similar occurrences in Nyala, South Darfur, and Zalingei, Central Darfur, reportedly affected the UN mission.
“Reports that citizens are being blocked from fleeing for safer locations and that this is leading to many casualties worry me. According to Volker Perthes, the UN special representative who was excommunicated by the Sudanese army in June, these reports remind him of the abuses that were carried out in el-Geneina, West Darfur, the previous June.
Amnesty International charged Sudan’s warring sides in a report also released on Thursday of perpetrating numerous crimes against civilians, including targeted executions, rape, kidnappings, arbitrary shelling, looting, and takeover of homes.
According to the report, “both the SAF and the RSF have shown utter disregard for the fundamental principles of international humanitarian law, which prohibit attacks that fail to distinguish between civilians and combatants as well as between civilian and military objects, and which forbid the deliberate targeting of civilians.
“Civilians were intentionally murdered or injured in targeted attacks in other situations that Amnesty International has recorded. Survivors and other witnesses in these cases identified armed RSF members and affiliated militias as the offenders.
Several witnesses told Amnesty that on the evening of 13 May, RSF fighters broke into a Coptic church in the Bahri area of Khartoum, shooting and injuring five members of the clergy before stealing large sums of money and a golden cross.
The report referred to “scores of women and girls (as young as 12) in and around the capital and in the Darfur region” who have been “abducted and subjected to sexual violence including rape by members of the warring sides”.
In May, it was reported that the rape and sexual assault of 24 women by men wearing uniforms similar to those of the RSF in Nyala, the capital of South Darfur.
A 25-year-old woman from el-Geneina told Amnesty she had been abducted by “three armed Arab men in civilian clothes”, who took her to the civil records office building in al-Jamarik neighbourhood, where they “took turns raping her”.
An RSF source, who spoke to news channels on condition of anonymity, denied Amnesty’s claims, adding that the report was based on false information.
According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), satellite imagery “shows massive fire destruction in the town of Sirba in Sudan’s West Darfur state, in late July 2023”.
In West Darfur, Sirba is the “seventh village or town that has been nearly destroyed or completely burned to the ground since April,” according to HRW.
The US-based organisation has already charged the RSF with carrying out a massacre in the West Darfur community of Mestri in May.
On May 28, 2023, in Sudan’s West Darfur province, “The Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and affiliated Arab militias summarily executed at least 28 ethnic Masalit and killed and injured dozens of civilians,” according to HRW.
The US-based group described the paramilitary’s actions as war crimes and called for an independent investigation by the ICC.
Local Sudanese groups are also pushing for international attention and justice, as many fear the atrocities of war will continue as attention on the conflict flickers.
In an open letter to the UN Secretary General, the Sudanese Lawyers Democratic Front and other organisations called for the referral of the Sudan case to the ICC in order to investigate violations committed by the warring parties.
In a memo seen by news channels, the groups refer to “horrific and documented violations” and urge the UN Security Council to address “crimes and violations against civilian victims”.