UN fears escalation of interethnic violence in Sudan

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The UN on Tuesday decried an escalation of interethnic violence in Sudan, saying it had credible information indicating targeted killings against the Masalit ethnic group.

“We’re currently verifying credible reports that we’ve received of large-scale violence directed towards members of the Masalit community in Darfur,” a non-Arab group, UN Secretary-General spokesman Stephane Dujarric told journalists.

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The UN information details “violence allegedly committed by Arab militia groups” November 4-6, possibly abetted by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a paramilitary organization at war with the Sudanese army since mid-April.

Dujarric said the attacks centered on the West Darfur capital of El Geneina.

The violence includes “targeting killings of Masalit men and women,” as well as “inhumane and degrading treatment and forced expulsion of Masalit communities who have previously sought safety within the Ardamata neighborhood of El Geneina and surrounding areas,” he said.

Dujarric also cited information that “members of the Masalit militias have also targeted some members of the Arab community in El Geneina.”

“These developments sadly indicate an escalation in interethnic and intercommunal conflicts in Sudan,” he said, calling for all sides toprotect civilians.

War erupted in Sudan on April 15, pitting army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his former deputy, RSF commander Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, in fighting that has left more than 9,000 dead, according to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, a number widely considered an underestimate.

Notes taken by Gamar Khater, a Masalit elder in El Geneina, of the atrocities he says he witnessed during the assaults in the city, in Adre, Chad July 22, 2023. (Reuters)
Notes taken by Gamar Khater, a Masalit elder in El Geneina, of the atrocities he says he witnessed during the assaults in the city, in Adre, Chad July 22, 2023. (Reuters)

The RSF is fighting to take control in Darfur, where the UN fears new mass killings may occur after a genocide in the early 2000s by Janjaweed militias, working on behalf of then-president Omar al-Bashir.

In 2021, the RSF and the armed forces jointly overthrew a transitional government, but the two sides this year fell into a power struggle over control of the state and its resources.

The ongoing war has already displaced more than six million people, and the UN fears a new wave of displaced people as fighting intensifies in Darfur.

Last week, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator in Sudan, Clementine Nkweta-Salami, said that the violence in Sudan was “verging on pure evil.”

Read more:

EU expresses outrage over reports of 1,000 casualties in Darfur

Violence in Sudan ‘verging on pure evil,’ says UN

Sudanese RSF cements control of West Darfur’s El Geneina

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