File picture of smoke rising over the city during ongoing fighting between the Sudanese army and paramilitaries of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in Khartoum, Sudan, 19 April 2023. EFE/EPA/STRINGER

Situation ‘rapidly deteriorating’ as violence escalates in Darfur, UN says

Khartoum, 9 Nov (EFE).- Following the intensification of fighting between the Sudanese army and the paramilitary group Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in the troubled western region of Darfur, and reports of a massacre over the weekend, United Nations officials called on both parties to protect civilians and uphold international humanitarian law.

“100s of 1000s of civilians & IDPs (internally displaced persons) are at grave risk right now in AlFashir, N(orth) Darfur, with a fast deteriorating security situation, lack of food & water, & very limited services,” said the UN deputy humanitarian coordinator in Darfur, Toby Harward.

The UN official added that if the RSF and the army fight for control of the city, “it will have a devastating impact on the civilian population,” something that goes against the agreement reached this week between the warring parties in the Saudi city of Jeddah, where talks are taking place under the mediation of Saudi Arabia and the United States.

Meanwhile, Clementine Nkweta-Salami, Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Integrated Transitional Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS), said she was “profoundly disturbed by reports that Arab militias allied with the RSF committed serious human rights violations, particularly in El Geneina, West Darfur from 4-6 November.

And reiterated a “call on all parties to uphold their obligations to protect civilians.”

Fighting in Sudan intensified on Thursday in the capital, Khartoum, and in Darfur, after yet another failure of negotiations in Jeddah between the warring parties, who agreed to a humanitarian ceasefire earlier this week and pledged to protect civilians.

RSF had claimed on Saturday to have taken over the main army base in El Geneina, the capital of West Darfur, but humanitarian organizations have denounced that at least 200 civilians were massacred between Saturday and Monday. Disturbing videos of the atrocities have emerged online.

“Sickening reports & images coming from Ardamata, W(est) Darfur, inc(luding) of assassinations, grave violations & massacres of civilians, following RSF takeover of area,” Harward posted on social media Tuesday.

A few days earlier, on Friday, the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) expressed alarm at reports that women and girls in Sudan were being abducted, chained and held in “inhuman, degrading, slave-like conditions” in RSF-controlled areas of Darfur.

The war, which began on April 15 last year, has so far resulted in the deaths of nearly 9,000 people and the internal and external displacement of more than six million, while another 25 million Sudanese are in urgent need of humanitarian aid, according to the United Nations.

The atrocities recall the Darfur genocide, when an estimated 200,000 people were killed between 2003 and 2005. EFE