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RSF accused of war crimes, ethnic cleansing in Darfur

THE paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and allied militias conducted a widespread ethnic cleansing campaign against Masalit and other non-Arab civilians in El Geneina and other parts of West Darfur state in 2023, according to a new report by Human Rights Watch.

The report describes the killings as among “the worst atrocities” committed against civilians since Sudan’s war erupted last year, and calls for governments and international institutions to investigate whether the evidence shows that RSF leadership intended to commit genocide.

Men and adolescent boys were singled out during attacks, but children and women were also targeted, and fighters carried out rapes, according to the report, which is based on interviews with 220 people, and analysis of photographs, videos, satellite imagery and documents.

Malik, a 17-year-old who was injured during an RSF attack in El Geneina in June, described to researchers seeing fighters killing at least 12 children, including infants, as well as several adults.

“Two RSF forces… grabb[ed] the children from their parents and, as the parents started screaming, two other RSF forces shot the parents, killing them. Then they piled up the children and shot them. They threw their bodies into the river and their belongings in after them.”

Though the total number of dead is unknown, UN experts have estimated that up to 15,000 civilians were killed in El Geneina, some while trying to flee to safer places. Over half a million mostly Masalit people have fled to Chad and are now living in refugee camps.

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HRW urged the UN and the African Union to deploy a new civilian protection mission to Darfur and called on the UN Security Council to impose targeted sanctions against those most responsible for the crimes described in the report.

Sudan’s war is one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world, with nearly 9 million people displaced – including more than 2 million who have escaped to neighbouring countries – and severe hunger gripping large parts of the country.

By The African Mirror