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Sudan Tribune

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Civilians barred from accessing safe areas in W. Darfur: UNITAMS

فولكر بيرتيس

رئيس بعثة الأمم المتحدة في الخرطوم، فولكر بيرتس.

August 3, 2023 (EL GENEINA) – The head of the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS), Volker Perthes has expressed concerns over reports that civilians are being prevented from leaving for safer areas of West Darfur State, resulting into numerous casualties.

These reports are reminiscent of the violations committed in El Geneina, West Darfur last June”, he said in a report on the situation in Darfur.

The top UN official further said UNITAMS is “gravely” concerned about the severe impact of the fighting between the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) supported by Arab militias and the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) on civilians in the Darfur region.

“We are documenting all the violations and I recall that these heinous acts are serious violations of the human rights of civilians and may constitute war crimes under international law. I remind all parties involved to uphold their obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law to ensure the safety and protection of all civilians”, he stressed.

The statement strongly condemned the indiscriminate targeting of civilian populations and public facilities by the RSF and allied militias, particularly in the locality of Sirba, 45 kilometers north of El Geneina in West Darfur from July 24-26.

It expressed concerns by similar incidents in South Darfur as well as Central Darfur.

The UN mission, however, appealed to all the forces engaged in hostilities to cease their military operations immediately and call on them to resume the Jeddah-facilitated talks and reaffirms its commitment to support and facilitate efforts towards a peaceful resolution of the conflict throughout Sudan.

“We stand in solidarity with the people of Darfur and remain dedicated to achieving lasting peace and stability in the region”, concluded Perthes.

On Thursday, a London-based human rights organization accused the rival military factions involved in Sudan’s ongoing conflict committed “deliberate” and “discriminate” attacks against civilians in war-torn Sudan.

Amnesty International said it documented what it says are extensive war crimes being carried out by the Sudanese military and the paramilitary forces in Sudan.

Some of the violations documented, such as attacks targeting civilians, attacks on humanitarian infrastructure, rape and other sexual violence, and pillage amount to war crimes. The report focuses primarily on Khartoum and West Darfur.

Also documented, Amnesty International said in its new report, were increased tension in West Darfur region, many ethnic Masalit people fled to eastern Chad.

People who fled El Geneina told the London-based rights group that the town had been attacked by heavily armed Arab militias, supported by RSF fighters.

On 28 May, dozens of civilians were reportedly killed in Misterei, a town south-west of El Geneina, when clashes broke out between RSF and allied militias, and Masalit armed groups. Residents also said they buried 58 civilians killed that day.