Crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing occurring against the Massalit in West Darfur: HRW News
Crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing occurring against the Massalit in West Darfur: HRW

Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported on Thursday that ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity are occurring in El Geneina, Sudan. The events are labeled as “among the worst atrocities against civilians so far in the current conflict in Sudan.”

The Rapid Support Forces (RSF) are responsible for the attacks committed against the Massalit ethnic minority. This series of attacks commenced in April 2023, with the start of the conflict between the Sudanese Armed Forces, the RSF and other militias. In this period, it is estimated that between 10,000 and 15,000 people were killed in El Geneina. Here, attacks were held against the Massalit minority as part of a widespread ethnic cleansing campaign.

According to the report, the Massalit and other non-Arab civilians are being forced out of El Geneina, as displaced residents are seen in Chad, Kenya, Uganda, and South Sudan. HRW referred to the situation as a case of crimes against humanity and even a possible indication of genocide. The cases of murder, torture, persecution, and forcible transfer of the civilian population could amount to crimes against humanity as defined in Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. This was confirmed by ICC prosecutor Karim A. A. Khan in January 2024 during a statement. He mentioned, “There are grounds to believe that presently Rome Statute crimes are being committed in Darfur by both the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces and affiliated groups.”

At an international level, the availability of information regarding the crimes committed in Sudan has been a challenge. As a result, many of the crimes committed go unpunished, resulting in a lack of justice. Executive director at Human Rights Watch, Tirana Hassan, said that “the global inaction in the face of atrocities of this magnitude is inexcusable.” Conversely, in March 2024, the UN Security Council took further action regarding the situation in West Darfur. Resolution 2725 extends the Panel of Experts monitoring sanctions and actions in Sudan to 2025, assisting in the various reports.

The report includes a series of recommended actions to be considered internationally. These include targeted sanctions, an arms embargo, and further investigations into the events committed. The situation in Sudan is still under development.  Stressing international cooperation and humanitarian action is a central priority in the report.