Call for sanctions amid claims of ethnic cleansing in Sudan's West Darfur

Militias in Sudan killed thousands of people – including children – during a wave of violence last year in West Darfur, the NGO Human Rights Watch said as it accused armed groups of crimes against humanity and genocide.

Attacks by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and allied militias in and around West Darfur's capital, El Geneina, amount to ethnic cleansing against the Massalit and other non-Arab populations, according to a HRW report published Thursday.

Evidence compiled between April and November 2023 documents instances of torture, rape and looting mainly in neighbourhoods belonging to the Masalit tribe, with abuses escalating again in early November.

HRW wants the UN and the African Union to impose an arms embargo on Sudan and sanction those responsible for the crimes, including the RSF leader Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, who is widely known as Hemedti.

HRW also wants a military presence in the region to protect civilians.

“The large-scale atrocities committed in El Geneina should be seen as a reminder of the atrocities that could come in the absence of concerted action,” Tirana Hassan, HRW's executive director, warned.

The violence culminated in a massacre on 15 June, when the RSF and its allies opened fire on a convoy of civilians trying to flee.