on Thursday 7 December, 2023

US finds war crimes and ethnic cleansing in Sudan war

by : AFP

The United States said Wednesday that Sudan's rival forces have both committed war crimes in their brutal conflict and alleged a new ethnic cleansing campaign in scarred Darfur.

After months of rising concern and frustration at the failure of talks, Secretary of State Antony Blinken presented findings following an evaluation by the State Department.

Blinken said that both the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) -- whose longstanding tensions erupted into wide-scale violence on April 15 -- have committed war crimes.

The RSF has also carried out ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, he said, pointing to accounts of mass killings by the largely Arab force and its allied militias against the ethnically African Masalit people in Darfur.

Blinken said the campaign had "haunting echoes of the genocide that began almost 20 years ago in Darfur."

"Masalit civilians have been hunted down and left for dead in the streets, their homes set on fire and told that there is no place in Sudan for them," Blinken said, pointing as well to sexual violence.

Both the Sudanese army and the RSF "have unleashed horrific violence, death and destruction across Sudan," Blinken said in a statement.

The two sides "must stop this conflict now, comply with their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law, and hold accountable those responsible for atrocities," he added.

Army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and RSF commander Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, Burhan's former deputy, teamed up in October 2021 to derail a fragile transition to democracy in Sudan, where mass protests helped end decades of autocratic rule.

The violence erupted in April as the two failed to agree on the integration of the RSF into the army in line with a roadmap to civilian rule.

More than 10,000 people have been killed, according to a conservative estimate from the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project, a monitor, with the United Nations saying 6.3 million more have been forced to flee their homes.