Ethnic cleansing in Darfur and possibly even genocide, says Human Rights Watch


This article was last updated on May 9, 2024

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Ethnic cleansing in Darfur and possibly even genocide, says Human Rights Watch

According to Human Rights Watch, the excessive violence that the Sudanese rebel movement RSF has caused in the Darfur region is ethnic cleansing. The human rights organization investigated the town of el-Geneina in the Sudanese region, where thousands of people died last year due to violence by the rebel army and Arab militias against Sudanese of African descent.

Refugee residents of the city speak of looting, rape and murder by the rebel movement. Human Rights Watch (HRW) suspects the report also that there was a conscious search for people from the Masalit ethnic group, which would amount to genocide. HRW wants this to be further investigated by the international community.

“This report from HRW contains testimonies from survivors about what happened last year in the town of el-Geneina. For example, a 17-year-old boy describes how children were thrown into a pile and then shot dead during an attack on a convoy with refugees. And based on satellite images, HRW concludes that Masalit neighborhoods in the city have been razed to the ground by bulldozers.

These are horrible stories that are now coming out and it is special that this report is now available. The Darfur region is virtually impassable for journalists and aid workers to conduct research.”

Five years ago, autocratic leader Omar al-Bashir was deposed in Sudan after three decades. The coup was carried out by the regular Sudanese army SAF and the paramilitary group Rapid Support Forces (RSF), but the parties subsequently failed to agree on the division of power. In April last year, fighting broke out in the capital Khartoum and other parts of the country.

Eight million refugees

Both parties are supported and opposed by other groups. The warring parties made several deals on a ceasefire, but each time the agreement was reached violated.

According to the Red Cross, the conflict receives too little attention due to other crises in the world and the number of deaths can only be estimated. According to the UN, more than eight million people have fled in one year.

It is not the first time that there is ethnic violence in Darfur. Twenty years ago, an estimated 300,000 Sudanese of African descent were killed. At the time the Arab militias were called Janjaweed, the RSF is a continuation of that.

Western countries have their citizens from Sudan evacuated; the Sudanese population is lagging behind. The International Criminal Court is investigating ethnic violence in Darfur.

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