Rights groups call for arms embargo on Sudan fighters

Saturday April 20 2024

Members of Sudanese Armed Forces look on as they hold weapons in the street in Omdurman, Sudan on March 9, 2024. PHOTO | REUTERS


As the war in Sudan enters its second year, right groups are calling for the United Nations Security Council to put in place stricter measures that will disrupt the flow of arms into the wartorn country.

The groups also want the international community to take action in response to a UN Panel of Experts’ recent report on arms embargo violations.

The ongoing war between the Sudanese Armed Forces (Saf) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) has left over 14,600 people killed nationwide and over eight million displaced.

About two million of these are currently seeking refuge in neighbouring countries, including Uganda, South Sudan and Ethiopia.

In a petition to the UN Security Council, Amnesty International said the warring parties have no regard for human rights and international humanitarian law.

Read: UN: Sudan warring sides committed violations


“The people of Sudan feel forgotten amid the spiralling violence across the country, where parties to the conflict are causing untold death and destruction. Caught in the middle of fighting, they have no food, water, or access to medical services, and with limited internet, civilians have no access to information about safe passage or where to find medicine,” the petition reads.

The group notes that despite several outcries, the flow of arms continues to increase into the borders of Sudan unabated. Since fighting broke out, both the Saf and the RSF have been accused of repeatedly using heavy explosive weapons in densely populated areas of the capital and conducting indiscriminate attacks, resulting in numerous civilian casualties and the destruction of critical civilian infrastructure including schools, hospitals, mosques, and churches.

Aid workers and humanitarian convoys have also been reportedly targeted by parties to the conflict.

The Human Rights Watch in a statement called on the European Union to take urgent, strategic and concrete steps that respond to the massive cost on civilians of the human rights and humanitarian crisis in the Sudan and prevent further violations.

West Darfur state in particular has witnessed some of the worst attacks on civilians and serious violations of international humanitarian law, some amounting to war crimes, according to HRW.

The fighting and attacks on civilians have spread to other regions, including South Kordofan and Aj Jazirah State.

Read: Sudan's war spills into farming state hosting displaced people

Over the years, United Nations experts, NGOs, and civil society have raised concerns about the surge of sexual violence, primarily against women and children, including in Khartoum and Darfur.

“Survivors’ access to urgent services was hampered by attacks on medical facilities and organisations providing care, exacerbated by deliberate obstruction of assistance and looting of aid by the warring parties,” HRW said.

The group called on the EU to Engage with the warring parties and their regional backers to end all attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure end the deliberate obstruction of aid and allow unhindered, safe, and immediate humanitarian access.

The EU was also implored to increase emergency funding for the humanitarian response in Sudan, including for local responders, and ensure specific support for the protection, care, treatment, and support mechanisms for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.