Revenge for Darfur massacre likely – DW – 05/11/2024

“Massacre,” “Massacre,” “Bloodshed”: UN observers and human rights groups say they are the worst in the ongoing siege by Sudan's Rapid Support Forces on al-Fishar, the last stronghold of the anti-Sudanese armed forces. They are afraid. Darfur – ends in an attack.

Since the start of the war in Sudan in April 2023, al-Fishar has become the largest humanitarian center in Darfur. Today, it is home to approximately 1.5 million people, including 800,000 internally displaced persons.

An informal peace deal between the warring parties — the Sudanese Armed Forces, or SAF, under Gen. Abdul Fattah Burhan, and their rival, the head of the Rapid Support Forces, or RSF, Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo — had provided relative security until now. . The growing population of the city.

The siege on al-Fisher, including its refugee camps, is worsening the lives of internally displaced people, many of whom are women and children.Photo: Albert Gonzalez Faran/Unnamed/Hahn/dpa/Photo Coalition

However, this situation changed last month when two armed groups in al-Fisher, the Sudan Liberation Army and the Justice and Equality Movement, announced plans to join the Sudanese armed forces.

“Not only do these two groups have their own local networks, but they see the Rapid Support Forces as a common enemy,” said Hajar Ali, a researcher at the German think tank GIGA Institute for Global and Area Studies. is a very powerful driver to unify.” Told DW.

In return, the RSF stepped up its military efforts to ensure that these new alliances did not become too strong and could not attack military counter-campaigns, he added.

Common citizens bear the brunt of the conflict.

“Al-Fishar now hosts the largest population of cities in Darfur, with camps for internally displaced people and more than 50 shelters within the city,” said Michel D'Arcy, Sudan Country Director of the Norwegian People's Aid Organization. Places are included.”

Nevertheless, the current tension around al-Fisher has blocked the entry of humanitarian aid, he confirmed.

Toby Harvard, the UN's deputy humanitarian coordinator for Sudan, said earlier this month that the humanitarian situation in and around Al-Fisher was “catastrophic”.

“The security situation has deteriorated significantly, including increased indiscriminate killings, cattle theft, systematic burning of entire villages in rural areas, increased aerial bombardment of parts of the city and tightening of the siege around al-Fisher. has stopped humanitarian aid convoys and commercial trade,” he said in a May 2 report.

A recent analysis by Yale University's Humanitarian Research Lab also confirmed that 23 communities in North Darfur have been burned in apparent arson attacks since mid-April.

And according to the United Nations' World Food Program, “time is running out to stop starvation across the region.”

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas Greenfield told reporters in late April that she feared that “history is repeating itself in Darfur in the worst possible way,” adding that Al-Fisher “has committed mass killings.” was on the brink of normal.”

Since the war began in 2023, Alfisher has been a humanitarian center for up to 1.5 million people.Photo: Ali Shakur/AFP

Darfur's Deadly History

After the war broke out in April 2023, fighting between the SAF and the RSF quickly spread from the Sudanese capital Khartoum to Darfur – where part of the population identifies as Arab and others as African – and where the RSF is based. .

According to Human Rights Watch, the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces and their allied militias then launched a campaign of ethnic cleansing against Darfur's non-Arab population.

On May 9, the watchdog released a report on the killings of the Muslim ethnic minority. In Darfur in 2023, where UN experts believe about 15,000 people have been killed and more than half a million displaced in Jenina, the capital of West Darfur.

Also this week, The Sudanese Archivean open-source platform that collects digital information on human rights violations, has published footage of the abuse of civilians, including women and children, by Rapid Support Forces in Jenina in November 2023.

A full-scale RSF attack would lead to a 'decline in local support'

It remains to be seen whether the RSF will launch a full-scale offensive to take control of al-Fisher and thus a third of the country's territory, including Libya, Chad and the Central African Republic along Sudan's international borders.

However, observers agree that victory at al-Fisher will come at a high cost.

“An all-out war for control of the city that would result in massive civilian bloodshed would lead to reprisal attacks across Darfur's five states and beyond Darfur's borders,” the UN's Harvard said.

This view was echoed by Constantin Grund, head of the Khartoum office of the German Friedrich Ebert Foundation.

“An attack would encourage more local armed groups to join the fight, which would have devastating consequences for the civilian population,” he told DW.

Moreover, the RSF will lose its political popularity and status.

“This will accelerate the erosion of local support and at the same time nullify RSF's strong efforts to legitimize itself in one fell swoop,” he added.

Rapid Support Forces control four of Darfur's five states, including arms, drugs and humanitarian aid to the populationPhoto: Ashraf Shazli/AFP

International pressure is expected.

Meanwhile, international calls for a ceasefire and the reopening of humanitarian aid corridors have fallen on deaf ears.

On May 2, the Saudi foreign minister called the two generals and urged them to “stop fighting to protect state institutions and the people of Sudan.”

“However, this could change if international pressure increases, Hager Ali believes.” RSF currently considers itself completely immune to any real consequences, he told DW, adding that he has nothing to fear in terms of international litigation or accountability. ”

Edited by: Martin Kibler

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