Human Rights Watch reports a fresh wave of genocidal violence in Sudan by RSF militias as the world’s gaze focuses on the Middle East

In a report published on Sunday 26th November, the human rights NGO, Human Rights Watch, openly declared that the Rapid Support Forces have been responsible for the systematic killing, rape of women and girls, torture and unlawful detention of more than a thousand mostly Massalit Sudanese. The Rapid Support Forces – under the direction of Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo Hemedti – formerly the Deputy Head of the Transitional Military Council, are accused of the deliberate ethnic cleansing of the Massalit population from Darfur, as estimates of those killed in the first few weeks of November alone, range from between 1,300 and 2,000. According to the UN refugee Agency, UNHCR, more than 800 Massaleti were killed in Ardamata in the first fortnight of November. An estimated 8,000 Massaleti have fled across the border into Chad in the last few months from the El Geneina region, with their numbers swelling the nearly half a million Sudanese refugees already in Chad.  

Fleeing refugees from Darfur, camp out under the night sky in Chad

The brutality of RSF troops has intensified

The brutality of the RSF troops has dramatically intensified since the early days following the attempted overthrow of General Burhan on April 15th. Satellite imagery obtained by Human Rights Watch, shows the devastating:

‘impact of the shelling on civilian and military infrastructure as well as looting and arson in and around the Ardamata, displaced people’s camp…new graves and bodies in the street’

The HRW report details that many Massalit fighters joined forces with the state’s Sudan Armed Forces, in an attempt to stem the assault by rampaging RSF militiamen who swept through residential areas inhabited by Massalit and other non-Arab communities. 

The report refers to a letter sent by HRW on November 21st – to the central command of the RSF, requesting a response by a deadline of November 25th, to their findings of atrocities and attacks in Ardamata, West Darfur. It read:

‘We write from Human Rights Watch to share with you the preliminary findings of our research into serious abuses committed in Ardamata, West Darfur, between November 1 and 10, and to request your response to specific questions’

A catalogue of atrocities committed by RSF in Ardamata, West Darfur

In the preamble, Human Rights Watch set out a clear and detailed set of damning allegations of events which are alleged to have taken place in the first week of November in the Ardamata region. It read:

‘Our research, which includes interviews with 20 witnesses, has found that armed men, identified by witnesses and survivors to be members of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) as well allied Arab militias, attacked civilians as fighting broke out between the RSF and SAF on November 1. On November 4, after the RSF declared that it had taken over the SAF base, witnesses described how RSF members and allied Arab militias attacked residential areas in Ardamata including the Ardamata camp for displaced persons. Survivors spoke of RSF fighters and allied militia killing civilians in house-to-house searches, on the streets, and on roads as the civilians fled to Chad. The targeted victims were primarily ethnic Massalit men, as in previous attacks documented by Human Rights Watch.

Videos verified and analyzed by Human Rights Watch also show the RSF detaining hundreds of men and possibly children and ill-treating some. Our interviews and video evidence also point to torture by RSF and allied militiamen, including in at least one detention site identified to be the Sudanese- Chadian joint forces headquarters which has been under RSF control since late April 2023.

Members of the RSF and allied militias also subjected civilians to sexual violence and carried out widespread looting and arson of civilian homes and property’

The HRW request received no reply. It was of particular note that the HRW Report called on the UN Security Council to:

‘support monitoring of human rights abuses there and expand the existing arms embargo to cover the entire country and all parties to the ongoing armed conflict’

It specifically urged:

 ‘African members of the Security Council, the United Arab Emirates, and other governments on the [United Nations Security] council should support these and other measures to ensure the UN’s most powerful body is able to fulfil its responsibility to protect civilians in West Darfur and the rest of Sudan.’

Former President of Liberia calls out United Arab Emirates (UAE) for supplying arms to the RSF in the London Times

An OP Ed Comment piece published on Monday 27th November in the London Times Newspaper, by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former President of Liberia and first elected female head of state, she directly pointed a finger at the culpability of one of the members of the council – the United Arab Emirates. She said:

‘I am deeply concerned by accusations that regional powers are intent on worsening the situation for Sudan’s women. In particular, I have been troubled by reports that the United Arab Emirates has been supplying arms to the RSF. A prominent analyst of the Sudan crisis has described the UAE’s material support for the RSF as ‘the worst-kept secret going’. I hope that the reports are wrong. It is essential that all regional and international actors play a constructive role in bringing peace to Sudan, especially when the world’s attention is focused on other crisis. They must not overlook gross human rights abuses in pursuit of selfish economic and strategic interests’


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