US sanctions RSF's deputy head, commander for atrocities in Sudan

Wednesday September 06 2023

Paramilitary Rapid Support Forces fighters ride in the back of a technical vehicle in the East Nile district of greater Khartoum, Sudan on April 23, 2023. PHOTO | RAPID SUPPORT FORCES | AFP


The US government on Wednesday imposed sanctions on top leaders of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), one of the warring parties in Sudan, for atrocities against civilians.

The State Department said Abdelrahim Hamdan Daglo and Abdul Rahman Juma had been fingered for overseeing violations including assassinations and kidnappings in Sudan’s five-month war that has seen nearly 2 million people displaced and over 2000 people killed.

Abdelrahman is the deputy leader of the RSF and is the brother of the rebels’ leader Mohamed Hamdan Daglo. Juma, on the other hand, is the RSF General and West Darfur Sector Commander. The US Treasury sanction him for his involvement in a gross violation of human rights. 

Read: UK slaps six army, RSF firms with sanctions

“According to credible sources, on June 15, 2023, RSF forces led by General Juma kidnapped and killed the Governor of West Darfur, Khamis Abbakar, and his brother. This act came just hours after Abbakar’s public statements condemning the actions of the RSF.

“Concurrently, the Department of the Treasury is imposing sanctions on RSF Senior Commander Abdelrahim Hamdan Dagalo for his connection to the RSF, whose members have committed human rights abuses against civilians in Sudan, to include conflict-related sexual violence and killings based on ethnicity,” the State Department said on Wednesday.


Khamis was shot dead in broad daylight and both RSF as well as the Sudan Armed Forces issued statements accusing one another of killings.

Yet, the US said members of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in Darfur have committed atrocities and other abuses, inducing ethnically motivated killings, “targeted abuses against human rights activists and defenders, conflict-related sexual violence, and looting and burning of communities”.

The two will not be allowed to set foot on US soil, nor be permitted to do business with US agencies, companies or nationals. 

This is the second time the US is imposing sanctions on leaders of Sudan’s war. In June, Washington sanctioned companies and individuals seen as fueling the war in Sudan by helping protagonists access arms and money through smuggling and other underhand businesses. Some of the firms were registered in the United Arab Emirates.

Read: US imposes economic, visa sanctions over violence in Sudan

Yet the war that erupted on April 15 between the RSF and Saf, once allies, has refused to ebb away in spite of regional efforts to seek dialogue. Since last week, Saf leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan has visited Egypt and South Sudan, his two perceived close allies, seeking to cement legitimacy and isolate his rivals in RSF.

The US though warned that external actors have helped fuel the war.

“We will not hesitate to use the tools at our disposal to hinder the ability of the RSF and Sudanese Armed Forces (Saf) to further prolong this war, and we will also use such tools to deter any actor from undermining the Sudanese people’s aspiration for peace and civilian, democratic rule. 

“We will act to promote accountability for those responsible for atrocities and to pursue justice for the victims. The parties must comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law to protect civilians, hold accountable those responsible for atrocities or other abuses, allow unhindered humanitarian access, and negotiate an end to the conflict.”