New attacks by armed Arab assailants on civilians in west Darfur since April 2022 have left hundreds dead, thousands displaced, and hundreds of civilian homes scorched, and property looted, Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday.
KHARTOUM June 26: The large-scale violence has been carried out particularly against civilians in Kerenik and Kulbus. It underscores the Sudanese government’s failure to fulfill its duty to protect civilians and the urgent need for ramped up United Nations monitoring, protection through its presence, and public reporting on events in Darfur.
“The last two months have shown all too starkly the devastating dividends of withdrawing peacekeepers and ignoring the ongoing need to protect civilians in Darfur,” said Mohamed Osman, Sudan researcher at Human Rights Watch. “It’s hard not to feel like the international community, which watched Darfur with eagle eyes for years, has completely abandoned these victims of ethnic cleansing.”
The joint human rights office in Sudan of both the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) and the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) should prioritize securing regular access to Darfur to investigate and publicly report on abuses.
The UN reported that the latest attack on civilians in the town of Kulbus and neighboring villages, in West Darfur between June 6 and 11, left at least 125 people dead, including five children, over 100 injured, and 33,000 displaced.
Most of the victims are reported to be from the non-Arab Gimir community. The attackers reportedly burned homes and farms and looted livestock.
Survivors told Human Rights Watch that assailants pulled civilians, including children, out of homes, and shot them. They also burned others inside their homes or in the streets as they fled. The Kerenik violence spread to the town of al-Genaina, where witnesses described clashes between the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and Sudan Coalition Forces, a peace signatory rebel group currently led by the governor of west Darfur.
Hospitals and medical staff have repeatedly come under attack during the bouts of violence in west Darfur, hampering access to health care for the injured, and reportedly including the killing of four medical staff during the late April 2022 violence in al-Genaina.
The RSF, which has a long history of serious violations in Darfur, has on some occasions, sided with Arab militia in attacks on civilians, notably in al-Genaina in April 2021. Witnesses told Human Rights Watch that members of the RSF also participated alongside Arab militias in the recent April attacks on Kerenik.