Seven months ago, hopes for civilian governance in Sudan were tragically dimmed when new conflict broke out between the Sudanese Armed Forces, the SAF, and the paramilitary group known as the Rapid Support Forces, or RSF.
At a UN Security Council briefing, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield called the war in Sudan “a living hell.”
“More than 5,000 people have been killed, more than 5.7 million people have had to flee their homes. Khartoum has been devastated, and Darfur is also bearing the brunt of this conflict,” she said.
Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield noted that in November the RSF and allied militias carried out massacres and other horrific abuses across West Darfur:
Eyewitnesses report further human rights abuses in West Darfur, the ethnic targeting of the ethnic-African Masalit community, and the arbitrary detention of civilians including local leaders, human rights defenders and activists. According to doctors and the UN, more than 800 people and counting were killed in a multiday attack in Adamata in what may amount to the single largest mass killing since the war erupted in April.”
Conflict-related sexual violence, including rape, has been rampant, said Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield:
“According to the OHCHR [Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights], women and girls are being abducted, chained, and held against their will in RSF-controlled areas in Darfur. ... This is all happening on our watch. And it is a stain on our collective humanity.”
A sustained peace is the only way to save lives and end the crisis, said Ambassador Thomas Greenfield. To further that goal, the United States, with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Intergovernmental Authority for Development, reconvened ceasefire talks between the parties in Jeddah. The SAF and RSF agreed to identify points of contact to help with humanitarian assistance. In addition, they resolved to implement confidence-building measures, including establishing communication between SAF and RSF leaders, arresting prison escapees, and reducing hostile rhetoric. It remains to be seen if the parties live up to these commitments.
“It is past time for the parties to put down their weapons and resume civilian governance,” declared Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield. “Let us all do everything possible to help the Sudanese people secure the freedom, the peace, and justice they deserve.”