On Sunday, the European Union denounced the increasing violence in Sudan’s western Darfur region and raised concerns about the potential risk of “another genocide” in the area. The conflict between Sudan’s regular army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary has led to destabilization in the region since April.
The EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell condemned atrocities against Darfur’s Masalit people and spoke of an “ethnic cleansing campaign.”
“These latest atrocities are seemingly part of a wider ethnic cleansing campaign conducted by the RSF with the aim to eradicate the non-Arab Masalit community from West Darfur, and comes on top of the first wave of large violence in June,” Borrell said.
“The international community cannot turn a blind eye on what is happening in Darfur and allow another genocide to happen in this region,” he said.
The Masalit are an ethnic group who reside mainly in Chad and Darfur in Sudan.
Between 2003 and 2008, Khartoum supported the Janjaweed Arab militias to put down rebel groups in Darfur, whose members included Masalits, leading to widespread abuses against civilians. Around 300,000 people were killed and over 2 million were displaced in the region in this time period.
The RSF grew in large part out of the Janjaweed militias.
The statement said that there was “credible eyewitness reports (that) more than a thousand members of the Masalit community were killed in Ardamta, West Darfur, in just over two days, during major attacks carried out by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and its affiliated militias.”
Since April, forces loyal to army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who is Sudan’s de facto head of state, have been at war with the RSF commanded by his former deputy, Mohamed Hamdan Daglo.
Last week, the RSF said it had taken control of the army headquarters in West Darfur’s capital, El Geneina. The city has a majority Masalit population, while most of Sudan is predominantly Arab.
The Reuters news agency reported that the RSF and allied Arab militias conducted weeks of systemic attacks on Masalit people between April and June 2023.
On Friday, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Sudan, Clementine Nkweta-Salami, said: “What is happening [in Darfur] is verging on pure evil,” referring to reports of rapes and other atrocities. She voiced fears of a repeat of the Darfur genocide committed in the 2000s.
The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said that 100 shelters in a displaced persons’ camp in Ardamta had been razed.