Darfur | Human Rights Watch warns of “possible genocide”

(Port Sudan) A series of attacks carried out by Sudanese paramilitary forces in the western region of Darfur “raises the possibility” of a “genocide” committed against non-Arab ethnic communities, says the NGO Human Rights Watch in a report released Thursday.

Paramilitaries of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) along with allied militias have been widely accused of ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity and war crimes in their war against the regular army, which began in April 2023.

The war has killed tens of thousands of people, with UN experts finding up to 15,000 people in the town of el-Geneina in West Darfur, the core of what HRW called “a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Massalit ethnic group and other non-Arab populations in the region.

The 186-page report documents how, from late April to early November 2023, the RSF and allied militias “led a systematic campaign aimed at expelling, including killing, residents of the Massalit ethnic group.”

The violence, which included mass torture, rape and looting, peaked in mid-June, when thousands of people were killed in a matter of days, and increased again in November.

Local human rights lawyers said the fighters primarily targeted “prominent members of the Massalit community,” including doctors, human rights defenders, local leaders and and government officials.

HRW adds that the attackers “methodically destroyed vital civilian infrastructure” in displaced communities mainly in Massalit.

Satellite images show that since June, the city’s predominantly Massalit neighborhoods – previously home to around 540,000 people – have been “systematically dismantled, many with bulldozers, preventing civilians who fled from returning home”, they indicated.

According to the New York-based NGO, the “apparent objective” of the attacks was “at least to push them to leave the region permanently”, which “constitutes ethnic cleansing”.

HRW points out that the context of the killings “raises the possibility that the RSF and its allies intended to destroy all or part of the Massalit in at least West Darfur, which would indicate that a genocide was and/or is being committed there.”

Disaster of “epic proportions”

HRW called for an investigation into genocidal intent and targeted sanctions against those responsible and urged the United Nations to “expand the arms embargo on Darfur to cover all of Sudan.”

The International Criminal Court, which is currently investigating ethnic killings committed mainly by the RSF in Darfur, says it has “reason to believe” that these paramilitaries, as well as the army, are committing crimes that amount to genocide , crimes against humanity and war crimes.

More than 500,000 Sudanese have fled the violence in Darfur to Chad, according to the latest UN figures.

By the end of October, 75% of those crossing the border were from el-Geneina, capital of West Darfur, HRW said.

All eyes are currently on el-Fasher, capital of North Darfur State, the only capital of the five Darfur states not in the hands of the RSF, approximately 400 kilometers east of el-Geneina,

“As the UN Security Council and governments wake up to the impending disaster in el-Fasher, the large-scale atrocities committed in el-Geneina should be seen as a reminder of the atrocities that could occur in the absence of “concerted action,” said Tirana Hassan, executive director of HRW.

reference: www.lapresse.ca

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