The UN Human Rights Council on Thursday narrowly passed a resolution condemning violations of humanitarian law amid the ongoing violence that has swept Sudan in recent weeks. The resolution, which slammed violations of international law on both sides of the conflict, and also expanded the mandate of an expert monitoring group in the country, was adopted by 18 countries, and rejected by 15, including Sudan itself, with 14 abstentions.
Also on Thursday, Volker Türk, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, strongly condemned the ongoing violence, while a panel of UN experts warned the conflict was having an outsized civilian impact. In particular, the expert panel urged both the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) to immediately cease fighting and, in particular, to stop targeting civilians and infrastructure.
Hundreds of civilians have been killed and thousands injured, including women and children, since the fighting began. The crisis has also resulted in hundreds of thousands of people being forcibly displaced from their homes in search of safety. Reports have indicated that civilians of all ages are experiencing various human rights abuses, including sexual assault and gender-based violence, as well as looting and shortages of food, water, healthcare, including reproductive healthcare, fuel and other basic goods and services, and collapse in communication channels.
The experts also called for unimpeded access to life-saving assistance and humanitarian aid, political negotiations for a civilian-led government, and accountability for violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.
The statement also lamented the exacerbation of what was already a crisis involving internally displaced persons (IDPs); before the war, Sudan had some 3.7 million IDPs. The ongoing violence has pushed another 334,000 people into that demographic, and another 120,000 have been forced to flee to neighboring countries, according to the UNHCR.
Armed conflict erupted in Sudan on April 15, with clashes occurring in western Sudan, Khartoum, and the Darfur region. The conflict began when the paramilitary RSF launched attacks on government sites, leading to airstrikes, artillery fire, and gunfire across the country. As of May 9, the death toll stood at least 700, with over 5,100 others injured.