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Sudan: International community failing to end armed conflict with civilians left ‘neglected and ignored’

© Amnesty International

One year since the conflict began, response from international community remains woefully inadequate

Fighting has intensified across the country with more than 14,700 people killed

Approx 10.7 million people displaced marking it as the world's largest internal displacement crisis

At least 14 million children - half the country’s children - require humanitarian assistance

‘Fighting continues throughout the country, with no measures in place to protect civilians from harm’ - Tigere Chagutah

One year since the conflict between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces erupted in Sudan, the response from the international community has remained woefully inadequate even as the civilian death toll rises in the country, Amnesty International, Sudan Democracy First Group and NGO International Film Festival said today.

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

“For one year, the people of Sudan have been neglected and ignored as they bore the brunt of violent clashes between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces. Diplomatic efforts have so far failed to end violations, protect civilians, provide sufficient humanitarian aid, or hold the perpetrators of war crimes to account.  

“The international community has not exerted sufficient pressure on the warring parties to stop violating the human rights of people caught up in this war. The African Union, in particular, has not displayed the required level of leadership nor taken concrete actions that match the scale and gravity of the conflict.

“During its annual summit in February, the first since the outbreak of the conflict, the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government failed to include the situation in Sudan as a stand-alone agenda item.

“It took almost a year for the United Nations Security Council to adopt a resolution on Sudan that called for the immediate cessation of hostilities and for unhindered humanitarian access. Yet despite the resolution, fighting continues throughout the country, with no measures in place to protect civilians from harm.”

In October 2023, the UN Human Rights Council established a Fact-Finding Mission on Sudan, with the mandate to investigate and establish facts and root causes of human rights violations and abuses committed in the conflict.

Omayma Gutabi, Sudan Democracy First Group’s Executive Director, said:

“Despite its potential critical role in advancing accountability for the atrocities committed in Sudan, the Fact-Finding Mission is currently unable to meaningfully fulfil its mandate as it is yet to be fully staffed or adequately funded due to a UN hiring freeze. The world cannot afford to continue looking the other way.

"Member states must ensure the necessary resourcing and full political backing for the UN Fact-Finding Mission on Sudan and keep human rights in Sudan high on the agenda of the UN Human Rights Council and other UN bodies.

“Sudan’s regional and international partners must pressure the warring parties to protect civilians and allow unhindered humanitarian access. We also urge an immediate escalation in humanitarian aid for those who have sought refuge in Sudan's neighbouring countries, as well as for internally displaced individuals, especially women and girls who are vulnerable to sexual violence.”

A catastrophic humanitarian crisis

Despite multiple ceasefire declarations, fighting has intensified across the country. More than 14,700 people have been killed, including in deliberate and indiscriminate attacks on civilians. Approximately 10.7 million people have been displaced by the conflict, marking it as the world's largest internal displacement crisis. At least 14 million children — half the country’s children — require humanitarian assistance.

The United Nations World Food Programme has warned that the international humanitarian response to Sudan remains woefully underfunded despite humanitarian organisations warning of famine. As of the end of February, the UN's appeal was only 5% funded, which seriously undermines the delivery of crucial emergency aid and services.

Sudan’s museums, cultural centres and research facilities have also been looted and destroyed. On 15 April, Amnesty, Sudan Democracy First Group and the NGO International Film Festival will hold an art exhibition in Nairobi bringing together Sudanese artists in solidarity with the Sudanese civilians most affected by the conflict.

Taye Balogun, Founder of NGO International Film Festival, said:

“Artists are conveners of hope, a source of strength and custodian of cultural sites. With the ongoing conflict, the ancient history of Sudan may be destroyed now that the custodians have fled for protection.

"We now find ourselves at the crossroads of trying to save lives and preserve a cultural legacy that is fast disappearing. It is crucial that these Sudan artists reconvene after a year, to build solidarity, fundraise for local organisations and reflect on the future of Sudan.”

Time to end impunity

Since 2003, Amnesty and other organisations have repeatedly documented evidence of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other serious violations of international humanitarian law committed by Sudanese government forces, including the unlawful killing of civilians; the unlawful destruction of civilian property; the rape of women and girls; the forced displacement of civilians; and the use of chemical weapons.

Tigere Chagutah added:

"The pervasive impunity in Sudan has emboldened the warring parties and militias allied to them to continue targeting civilians in violation of international law. These perpetrators believe they are immune from consequences, and the international community's failure to act has only emboldened them further.

“We call on warring parties in Sudan to fully cooperate with the Fact-Finding Mission established by the UN Human Rights Council; Sudan’s neighbouring countries should also support and facilitate the work of this crucial mission.”

The ongoing armed conflict in Sudan, which pits the Sudanese Armed Forces against the Rapid Special Forces, a government paramilitary force, erupted on 15 April 2023. The fighting followed months of tensions between the two groups, as disagreements simmered over the potential reform of security forces that were proposed as part of negotiations for a new transitional government, among other issues.

The conflict has led to mass civilian suffering and large-scale destruction. The fighting initially started in Khartoum, yet quickly spread to other areas of Sudan, including Darfur, North Kordofan and Gezira state.

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