In a recent development, a prominent human rights organization has called on the United States and the United Nations to intensify sanctions against key Sudanese leaders alleged to be involved in grave atrocities within the troubled Darfur region. Disturbing evidence of scorched-earth attacks has emerged, prompting growing international concern.
The Northeast African nation has been plunged into turmoil since April, following prolonged tensions between the military, led by Abdel Fattah Burhan, and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), commanded by Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo. The situation escalated into violent confrontations in the capital, Khartoum, and other areas. In Darfur, a region marked by a genocidal war in the early 2000s, the conflict has evolved into ethnic violence. The RSF and allied Arab militias have reportedly targeted African communities, leading to widespread distress.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has issued a press release demanding targeted sanctions to compel the UN Security Council to take action to safeguard civilians and hold those accountable for the alleged atrocities. Notably, the United States assumed the presidency of the UN Security Council on August 1.
The New York-based watchdog organization revealed that, based on satellite imagery and testimonies analyzed by their team, at least seven villages and towns in West Darfur have been extensively destroyed or razed to the ground. These locations include Habilla Kanari, Mejmere, Misterei, Molle, Murnei, Gokor, and Sirba.
Tirana Hassan, Executive Director at HRW, expressed urgency: “The world should not stand by as town after town in West Darfur is burned to the ground, sending tens of thousands of civilians fleeing for their lives.”
Earlier sanctions were imposed by the US in June, targeting four companies associated with the warring factions. Additionally, visa restrictions were placed on army and RSF officials, as well as leaders from the former government under ousted President Omar Al-Bashir. The exact individuals affected were not specified.
Omar Al-Bashir, who governed Sudan for over three decades, is currently sought by the International Criminal Court for charges including war crimes and genocide linked to the Darfur conflict.
Concurrently, the US, Britain, and Norway jointly issued a statement condemning the ongoing bloodshed in Darfur. They specifically highlighted reports of ethnically-motivated killings and widespread sexual violence allegedly committed by the RSF and allied militias.
Despite numerous temporary cease-fire agreements between the military and the RSF brokered by the US and Riyadh, the conflicts have persisted. Last month, the ICC prosecutor, Karim Khan, announced plans to investigate new allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur.
Recent reports from Amnesty International have also implicated both warring parties in extensive war crimes, including deliberate civilian killings and mass sexual assault. The RSF and its allied Arab militias were largely held responsible for the majority of reported rape cases.
The ongoing conflict in Sudan, now spanning almost four months, has resulted in a death toll exceeding 3,000 people and more than 6,000 individuals wounded, as per government figures from June. Activists and medical professionals suggest that the actual numbers are likely much higher.
Amidst the violence, approximately 4 million people have been displaced from their homes, either seeking refuge within Sudan or in neighboring countries, according to data from the UN migration agency.
Highlighting the dire humanitarian aspect, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) recently disclosed that 20.3 million people in Sudan are grappling with severe hunger, a figure double that of the previous year.