Sudanese fear 'signs of genocide': Eyewitnesses report thousands dead in Darfur

Sudanese fear 'signs of genocide': Eyewitnesses report thousands dead in Darfur
Survivors say that Arab militia have been involved in ethnic cleansing, attacking and killing Masalit people as they flee the fighting.
4 min read
24 June, 2023
Bodies are left strewn in the streets of El Gineina as atrocities mount in Darfur [Getty images]

Civilians trapped in Sudan fear they may be witnessing the return of genocidal acts by warring parties in the country’s escalating civil conflict, according to eyewitness reports this week. 

The prospect of genocide recurring in Darfur is already a reality, according to reports by activists in the province. 

“Al Geneina is no more,” tweeted Darfur resident Marwa Tageldin. 

She said: "50% of the young men have been killed in battle. There is no way of counting the dead, there is no government. Bodies are in the streets and in homes."

Tageldin believes that as many as 15,000 could already have been killed in Darfur, though this figure has not been independently verified. 

Other eyewitnesses have reported the burning of villages in south Darfur by RSF militia - with residents fleeing to the nearby town of Kas. 

The Geneva-based UN rights office said people who escaped to Chad had given "horrifying accounts of armed 'Arab' militia backed by the Rapid Support Forces killing people fleeing El Geneina on foot".

It said witnesses had given "corroborating accounts" of Arab militia targeting men from the non-Arab Masalit people.

"All those interviewed also spoke of seeing dead bodies scattered along the road -- and the stench of decomposition," it said.

 "There are already signs of genocide,” confirmed Kenyan president William Ruto speaking at the Paris summit this week. 

“What is going on in Sudan is unacceptable. Military power is being used by both parties to destroy the country and to kill civilians. The war is senseless, the war is not legitimate in any way," said Ruto.

The RSF, still known to many in Sudan as the Janjaweed, have also launched assaults on the major cities of al-Fashir and Niyala - with heavy fighting between Hemedti’s forces and the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) ongoing. 

There are signs that deadly violence against civilians has become increasingly routine across the country - stoking further fears of a protracted civil war. 

“Two young men and their father were shot dead today by the RSF in Umpada in  Omdurman for refusing to leave their home...The prevalence of executions among unarmed citizens inside their homes is rising,” said Sudanese activist Hala al-Karib. 

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The SAF, led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, have also been accused of augmenting civilian suffering by “hampering humanitarian response” and had been implicated in the waves of looting that have pockmarked the country over the last two months. 

Medecins sans Frontieres have blamed both parties for failing to allow aid to reach the millions in need across the country. 

“The work of medical and humanitarian organisations is also being physically disrupted by both warring parties,” said MSF Sudan. 

“MSF supplies have been confiscated, while armed groups have looted MSF facilities and beaten and violently threatened staff.”

Many Sudanese analysts have voiced frustration in recent days over suggestions by international monitors that the Rapid Support Forces, led by Hemedti, should maintain a stake in future coalitions to restore the country to peace.