UN Accuses Both Sides in Sudan’s Civil War of War Crimes and Abuses

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GENEVA: In a damning report released on Friday, the UN human rights office declared that both factions in Sudan’s ongoing civil war have committed abuses that potentially amount to war crimes. The conflict, which has raged for 10 months, involves Sudan’s regular armed forces and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), resulting in thousands of casualties and displacing over six million people, making it the nation with the world’s largest displaced population.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Turk, stated that “some of these violations would amount to war crimes,” emphasizing the urgent need for a ceasefire and the protection of civilians. Efforts to end the conflict have so far failed, despite international intervention.

The United States has formally accused the warring parties of committing war crimes, specifically pointing to the RSF and allied militias’ involvement in ethnic cleansing in West Darfur. Both sides have pledged to investigate and prosecute individuals responsible for reported killings and abuses.

The UN report, covering the period from April to December, is based on interviews with over 300 victims and witnesses, as well as footage and satellite imagery. It highlights indiscriminate attacks on civilian sites, including hospitals, markets, and camps for the displaced. Explosive weapons attacks have taken a toll on those fleeing the violence, with incidents such as the shelling of a camp in Zalingei, Darfur, resulting in dozens of deaths.

The report accuses the RSF of using human shields as part of its military strategy, citing incidents in Khartoum where individuals were arrested and placed near RSF military posts to deter air strikes. Instances of sexual violence have also been documented, affecting 118 people, with reports of a woman detained and repeatedly gang-raped for weeks, mostly by RSF members.

The civil war erupted last April due to disputes over the powers of the army and the RSF under an internationally-backed plan for a political transition towards civilian rule and free elections. The international community is now faced with the challenge of addressing the widespread human rights abuses and bringing an end to the devastating conflict.

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