Between 10,000 and 15,000 people were killed last year in a town in Sudan’s West Darfur region in ethnic violence perpetrated by the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and allied Arab militias, according to a report by the United Nations consulted by Reuters on Friday.
In the report to the UN Security Council, independent UN sanctions monitors attributed the death toll at El Geneina to intelligence sources and compared it to the UN estimate that around 12 000 people have been killed across Sudan since the start of the war on April 15, 2023 between the Sudanese. the army and the RSF.
Observers also described as “credible” accusations that the United Arab Emirates provided military support to the RSF “several times a week” via Amdjarass, in northern Chad. A top Sudanese general in November accused the United Arab Emirates of supporting the RSF’s war effort.
In a letter to observers, the UAE said 122 flights had delivered humanitarian aid to Amdjarass to help Sudanese fleeing the war. According to the United Nations, around 500,000 people have fled Sudan to eastern Chad, several hundred kilometers south of Amdjarass.
Between April and June last year, El Geneina experienced “intense violence”, the observers wrote, accusing the RSF and its allies of targeting the African ethnic Masalit tribe in attacks that “could constitute crimes war and crimes against humanity.
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RSF has previously denied the accusations and said any soldier involved in the matter would be brought to justice. RSF did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
“The attacks were planned, coordinated and executed by RSF and their allied Arab militias,” sanctions monitors wrote in their annual report to the 15-member Security Council.
Last year, Reuters reported on ethnically targeted violence in West Darfur. In hundreds of interviews with Reuters, survivors described horrific scenes of bloodshed in El Geneina and on the 30-kilometer road linking the town to the border with Chad as people fled.
The observers’ report included similar accounts. According to them, between June 14 and 17, some 12,000 people fled El Geneina on foot for Adré, Chad. The Masalit were the majority in El Geneina until attacks forced them into a mass exodus.
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“Upon arriving at RSF checkpoints, women and men were separated, harassed, searched, robbed and physically attacked. RSF and allied militias indiscriminately shot hundreds of people in the legs to prevent them from fleeing,” the observers said.
“Young men were particularly targeted and questioned about their ethnicity. If identified as Masalit, many were summarily executed with a gunshot to the head. Women have been physically and sexually assaulted. Indiscriminate shooting also injured and killed women and children,” according to the report.
Everyone who spoke to observers mentioned “many dead bodies along the road, including those of women, children and young men.” Observers also reported “widespread” conflict-related sexual violence committed by RSF and allied militias.
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Observers said the RSF’s takeover of most of Darfur relied on three lines of support: allied Arab communities, dynamic and complex financial networks, and new military supply lines running through Chad, Libya and South Sudan.
The U.N. missions for Chad, Libya and South Sudan did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“The complex financial networks established by RSF before and during the war allowed it to acquire weapons, pay salaries, finance media campaigns, lobby and buy support from other political and armed groups », wrote the observers, adding that RSF used war revenues. its pre-war gold mining activity to create a network of up to 50 companies in several sectors.
Since the start of the war, “most of the gold that was previously exported to the United Arab Emirates was now smuggled to Egypt,” observers said.
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The new firepower acquired by the RSF “has had a massive impact on the balance of forces, both in Darfur and in other regions of Sudan”, according to the report.
The RSF has recently made military gains, taking control of Wad Madani, one of Sudan’s main towns, and consolidating its hold on the western region of Darfur.
In December, the United States officially determined that warring parties in Sudan had committed war crimes and that the RSF and allied militias had also committed crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing.
The war has left nearly half of Sudan’s 49 million people in need, while more than 7.5 million people have fled their homes – making Sudan the world’s largest displacement crisis – and hunger increases.
Sanctions monitors told the UN Security Council that “an excess of mediation avenues, entrenched positions of warring parties and competing regional interests meant that these peace efforts had not yet ended war, brought about a political settlement or resolved the humanitarian crisis.”