Sudan: Escalating violence in El Fasher and Al-Jazirah State requires urgent international response

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Mahmoud Hjaj / ANADOLU AGENCY / Anadolu via AFP

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS), and the Sudan Human Rights Monitor (SHRM) are deeply concerned about the most recent escalation of violence in Sudan, particularly in El Fasher and Al-Jazirah State. They urgently call on the international community to take immediate and decisive action to prevent further atrocities and protect civilians from ongoing violence.

Paris-Nairobi, 6 June 2024. Over one year has passed since the conflict erupted on April 15, 2023, between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). This conflict has had devastating consequences for civilians, resulting in more than 16,650 deaths and the displacement of over 9.5 million people, with over 2 million seeking refuge in neighboring countries such as the Central African Republic, Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia, and South Sudan.
Alarming Developments in El Fasher and Al-Jazirah State

Despite numerous calls for a ceasefire by regional and international stakeholders, fighting has continued unabated and has intensified in recent months. El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur, has become a major battleground between SAF and RSF. The city has witnessed inter-communal fighting since early April, resulting in extensive destruction and civilian casualties. Airstrikes and heavy weapons have targeted civilian neighborhoods, pushing people into overcrowded shelters. Médecins Sans Frontières reported that El Fasher South Hospital, the only functioning hospital in the area, has been on the frontlines, with mortar shells hitting the facility, causing casualties and ‘leaving nowhere safe in the city’.

In Al-Jazirah State the situation is equally dire. On June 5, 2024, the Resistance Committees of Wad Madani (capital of Al-Jazirah State) reported a massacre in Wad Al-Noora, where the RSF killed over 150 people. These acts are part of the RSF’s broader campaign of violence in Al-Jazirah state over the past six months, which has included numerous reports of attacks against unarmed residents, encompassing killings, kidnappings, forced displacement, and looting that affected hundreds of villages across the state.

UN Special Advisor’s Warning on Genocide

In late May, UN Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide Alice Wairimu Nderitu briefed the Security Council on the ongoing conflict in Sudan. Her recent visit to Chad confirmed accounts from refugees of ethnic-based violence, including rape, village burning, and forced displacement, all indicating that ‘this situation today bears all the marks of risk of genocide, with strong allegations that this crime has already been committed’. Nderitu called for urgent and immediate international action to prevent further atrocities in Sudan.
Call to Action

The international community must take urgent and decisive action to address these grave human rights violations. We urge the international community to:

  • Apply increased diplomatic pressure on the Sudanese government and the RSF to immediately cease hostilities, not only in Al-Jazirah State and El-Fasher, but across the country, and engage in meaningful dialogue to resolve the conflict.
  • Ensure safe and unhindered humanitarian access through all possible cross-border and cross-line routes and the removal of bureaucratic impediments
  • Support mechanisms for documenting human rights abuses and holding perpetrators accountable. This entails:
  • Ensuring that the Fact-Finding Mission has adequate resources and staff to continue its critical work and advocating for its mandate to be extended for another year. Additionally, Sudan and neighboring countries should grant immediate access to the FFM to facilitate thorough investigations.
  • Supporting the role of the International Criminal Court in investigating and prosecuting crimes under international law committed in Sudan.
  • Provide resources and support to local emergency rooms and civil society organizations working on the ground to protect human rights, provide relief, and document atrocities.
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