Comment by United Nations Human Rights Spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani, raising alarm on killings of people fleeing El Geneina in West Darfur, Sudan


June 24, 2023

Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

Interviews with people who have fled El-Geneina, West Darfur, into Adre in Chad have revealed horrifying accounts of armed “Arab” militia backed by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) killing people fleeing El Geneina on foot. Our UN Human Rights officers have heard multiple, corroborating accounts that “Arab” militia are primarily targeting male adults from the Masalit community. All those interviewed also spoke of seeing dead bodies scattered along the road – and the stench of decomposition. Several people spoke off seeing dozens of bodies in an area referred to as Shukri, around 10km from the border, where one or more of the Arab militias reportedly has a base.

We are gravely concerned that such wanton killings are ongoing and urge immediate action to halt them. People fleeing El-Geneina must be guaranteed safe passage and humanitarian agencies allowed to access to the area to collect the remains of those killed.

Out of 16 people we have so far been able to interview, 14 testified that they witnessed summary executions and the targeting of groups of civilians on the road between El-Geneina and the border – either the shooting at close range of people ordered to lie on the ground or the opening of fire into crowds. The testimonies recounted killings that took place on 15 and 16 June, but also in the past week. We understand the killings and other violence are continuing and being accompanied by persistent hate speech against the Masalit community, including calls to kill and expel them from Sudan.

One 37-year-old man said that from his group of 30 people fleeing to the Chad border, only 17 made it across. Some were killed after coming under fire from vehicles belonging to the RSF and “Arab” militia near the Chad border, while others were summarily executed, he said. Those who survived had their phones and money looted from them by armed men shouting: “You are slaves, you are Nuba”.

A 22-year-old woman gave similar accounts of killings. She told how one badly wounded young man had to be left on the ground, as they had no way of carrying him to safety across the border. “We had to leave him because we had only one donkey with us,” she said. It is difficult to estimate how many injured people may have been left to die in such circumstances.

Two interviewees testified separately that they, along with a group of people, were ordered by the RSF to leave El-Geneina. One said she was hit with sticks while being told to “get up and go to Chad – this is not your country.”

The High Commissioner for Human Rights calls on the RSF leadership to immediately, unequivocally condemn and stop the killing of people fleeing El-Geneina, and other violence and hate speech against them on the basis of their ethnicity. Those responsible for the killings and other violence must be held accountable.

El-Geneina has become uninhabitable. Essential infrastructure has been destroyed and movement of humanitarian aid to El-Geneina continues to be blocked. We urge the immediate establishment of a humanitarian corridor between Chad and El-Geneina, and safe passage for civilians out of areas affected by the hostilities.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

© Press Release 2022

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