Sudan: Civilians suffering 'unimaginable horror' amid ethnically-motivated violence in Darfur - new testimony

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Rapid Support Forces and allied Arab militias killed and injured hundreds of civilians in town of Ardamata in West Darfur

Civilians were executed in their homes, on the streets and while attempting to flee

‘Civilians are caught in unending cycles of pain, as ethnically-targeted attacks continue to take place’ - Tigere Chagutah

Survivors and witnesses of a series of ethnically-motivated attacks by the Sudanese militia group the Rapid Support Forces and allied Arab militias in the town of Ardamata in West Darfur earlier this month - attacks which killed and injured hundreds of civilians - have described the harrowing scenes to Amnesty International. 

The attacks, which began on 1 November, targeted men, women, and children belonging predominantly to the ethnic Masalit community, along with some members of other non-Arab tribes.

Witnesses described how civilians were executed in their homes, on the streets and while attempting to flee.

The Rapid Support Forces and their allies also looted and burnt civilian property in Ardamata, and the United Nations reported that women and girls were subjected to sexual violence.

People in a camp for internally-displaced people in Ardamata have been forced to flee once again following the attacks.

Amnesty interviewed witnesses from Ardamata and relatives of the victims. A doctor who was supporting victims in Ardamata said: 

“On 6 November, my colleagues and I counted a total of 95 bodies in Ardamata. They included men, women, and children. Among them was an 18-day-old infant whose lifeless body we found alongside his mother and four other women inside a residential house.

“The distressing scenes of Rapid Support Forces soldiers executing young men that I witnessed in Ardamata continue to haunt my thoughts every day.

“The worst chilling sight I remember is Rapid Support Forces soldiers executing four men in front of me and seeing their dead bodies seconds later.” 

A relative of two of the victims said: 

“On 4 November, armed Rapid Support Forces soldiers killed my 70-year-old aunt and her 25-year-old son inside her home in Ardamata. Entire families in their neighbourhood were also killed that same day.” 

Tigere Chagutah, Amnesty International’s East and Southern Africa Director, said: 

“Civilians in West Darfur are suffering unimaginable horror every single day, paying the price yet again in this latest escalation of extreme violence.

“The ongoing lack of accountability for past crimes is one of the root causes of this renewed violence.

“Civilians are caught in unending cycles of pain, as ethnically-targeted attacks continue to take place.

“The cycles of horror must be broken, and those responsible for crimes against civilians must be held to account.”

The war in Sudan began in April after weeks of tension between the Rapid Support Forces and the Sudanese Armed Forces over security force reform during negotiations for a new transitional government. In August, Amnesty documented extensive war crimes being committed by the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces in the conflict. Many ethnic Masalit people who fled to Chad from West Darfur told Amnesty that their towns had been attacked by Rapid Support Forces and heavily-armed Arab militias in ethnically-motivated violence. 

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