Africa: UN human rights expert on Sudan calls for urgent action on dismal human rights situation as conflict enters 10th month

Geneva, 17 January, 2024.- The UN expert on human rights in Sudan, Radhouane Nouicer, today deplored the grim human rights situation in the country as the brutal armed conflict enters its 10th month. He urged the leaders of the two parties to the conflict to immediately end the violence, ensure a transition to civilian rule and heed the calls of victims for peace and justice.

“Despite several regional and international mediation initiatives, there is still no peaceful resolution in sight and the people of Sudan continue to bear the brunt of this endless cycle of violence. Every day yields new accounts of human suffering, destruction and displacement,” said Nouicer.

“As fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces spreads across the country, violations of human rights and international humanitarian law are continuing unabated. It is crucial that the leaders of both sides show more political will to put an end to violence and silence the guns.”

Since the beginning of the conflict in April last year, thousands of civilians have been killed or injured. Both parties have shown complete disregard for international human rights law as well as international humanitarian law, in particular the principles on the conduct of hostilities. More than 7.6 million people have been displaced from their homes, including over 1.5 million into neighbouring countries. At least 25 million people across Sudan are in need of assistance, among them 14 million children.

“In my regular meetings with Sudanese civil society representatives, I have heard horrific reports of human suffering, including hundreds of suspected cases of enforced disappearance and multiple cases of arbitrary detention by both parties to the conflict. I have also heard deeply disturbing accounts of sexual violence against women and girls, most of them allegedly perpetrated by members of the Rapid Support Forces and their allied militia,” said the expert.

Nouicer denounced the rise in ethnically motivated violence and hate speech, particularly in the Darfur region. In West Darfur, the Rapid Support Forces and allied Arab militias have repeatedly attacked members of the African Masalit community.

He also expressed alarm at reports of conscription of children and mobilization of civilians into “popular” resistance groups to fight alongside the Sudanese Armed Forces.

“Both the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces have publicly made commitments to investigate gross violations and abuses committed during the conflict and break the cycle of impunity that is at the root of the ongoing tragedy, but so far, no actions have been taken to prosecute perpetrators, nor findings of investigations made public,” said Nouicer.

“I call on both parties to ensure all violations and abuses of international human rights law and violations of international humanitarian law are promptly and thoroughly investigated and those found responsible held to account.”

The expert also called on both sides to ensure safe, effective and unhindered delivery of humanitarian aid to the civilian population.

“Sudan – a most fertile land – is running out of food, and 18 million people are facing acute hunger, but despite the enormous need, delivering aid remains extremely challenging due to ongoing hostilities, persistent insecurity, attacks on humanitarian workers and bureaucratic hurdles,” said Nouicer. “This must not continue. The Government of Sudan, which has the primary responsibility to protect civilians, must take concrete steps to ensure sufficient aid can reach all those in need and facilitate the access of humanitarian convoys to the populations affected by the conflict.”

Nouicer called on the international community to work together and produce a coherent, inclusive, unified and coordinated roadmap to help end the violence engulfing Sudan, and to support a Sudanese national dialogue involving political parties and civilian groups, including women and youth associations, leading to the transfer of power to a transitional civilian-led government.

The expert intends to visit Port Sudan in February ahead of the 55th Human Rights Council session scheduled for March 2024.

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