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Sudan: UNHCR warns Darfur atrocities of 20 years ago may reoccur

Sudan: UNHCR warns Darfur atrocities of 20 years ago may reoccur

More than 800 people have been reportedly killed by armed groups in Ardamata, West Darfur, an area which has so far been less affected by the conflict that erupted in April.  

Ardamata also housed a camp for internally displaced people, Close to 100 shelters have been razed to the ground, while extensive looting – including of UNHCR relief items – has also taken place.

Two decades ago, thousands were killed across Darfur and millions displaced in fighting between Sudanese Government forces backed by allied militia known as the Janjaweed on one side, and rebel groups resisting the autocratic rule of President Omar al-Bashir, who was ousted in 2019.

UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Alice Wairimu Nderitu, warned in June that if fighting in West Darfur continued, including attacks based on ethnicity, this could amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. 

Violations, extortion and killings 

The UN refugee agency expressed alarm over reports of continued sexual violence, torture, arbitrary killings, extortion of civilians and targeting of specific ethnic groups. 

“Twenty years ago, the world was shocked by the terrible atrocities and human rights violations in Darfur. We fear a similar dynamic might be developing,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi.

“An immediate end to the fighting and unconditional respect for the civilian population by all parties are crucial to avoid another catastrophe,” he added. 

Millions displaced 

More than 4.8 million people have been displaced inside Sudan since fighting broke out in mid-April between the army and a paramilitary group known as the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). A further 1.2 million have sought refuge in neighbouring countries.

UNHCR reported that more than 8,000 people fled to Chad in the last week alone, though this is likely to be an underestimate due to challenges registering new arrivals.  

The agency and partners are working with the government to prepare for more refugees entering the country. 

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