International Intervention is Urgently Needed to Stop the Targeted Extermination of Innocent Civilians in Darfur
Dear Friends and Family of DWAG,
Darfur Women Action Group (DWAG) is outraged by the horrifying massacre, mass killing, and massive exodus of indigenous Africans in El Geneina and the brutal slaughter of the West Darfur governor, Khamis Abakar, by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). The attack in El Geneina should have shocked the world's consciousness and prompted the international community to act.
The targeted killing of the governor comes after Mr. Abakar had given a media interview detailing the situation confirming the responsibility of the RSF and allied militias for violence which he called a "genocide." This horrific act of violence comes after two months of the ongoing war in Sudan that has inflamed targeted ethnic attacks in Darfur. Mr. Abakar is the most senior government official known to have been killed since the conflict between the army and the RSF began in April and marks a new escalation in the conflict.
While the entirety of Sudan is going through war and destruction, particularly the capital Khartoum where civilians continue to fall victim as a result of fighting between the two warring parties (including reported SAF-led bombardment of civilians' homes and services facilities, coupled with the RSF's horrifying attacks and occupation of civilians' homes), the attacks in Darfur are precisely different in their scope and nature of targeting, whereby the RSF has systemically targeted the indigenous Africans while the military remains silently watching from a distance without making any effort to intervene or protect civilians. This reality has been evident from attacks in El Geneina, West Darfur; Kutum and Tawila in North Darfur; and Zalingei in Central Darfur, whereby the RSF is emptying these three cities of their populations by killing, injuring, and forcing them to flee with no access to communication or transportation means. What is common in all of these attacks is the target is the indigenous African tribes who have been singled out for extermination since the 2003 Darfur genocide.
The city of El Geneina in West Darfur, where indigenous Africans comprise most of the population, has been the most targeted city during the recent crises consistent with the history of the ongoing genocidal violence in the Darfur region. Sources on the ground confirmed that El Geneina has been through large-scale attacks more than 7 times since the start of the war in Sudan. The RSF and other allied Janjaweed Militias face accusations of carrying out the ethnic killings against the Black Africans in Darfur during the genocide. The RSF and other Arab Militias had put El Geneina under siege for 55 days with a total blockade of access to communications and means of transportation, as well as destroyed food, poisoned water sources, destroyed hospitals and pharmacies, and systematically eliminated all means of survival. Civilians' homes are completely burned and damaged, leaving women and children wandering around the streets. Those who tried earlier to flee were targeted for killing. Over 3000 are wounded with an urgent need for medical intervention and left to die.
The people of El Geneina have only two options: dying to gunfire or dying due to starvation or lack of medical attention. Estimates say that at least 500 people have been killed in El Geneina alone in the last week alone, making up over 2500 people, triple the total number of people killed across Sudan, and many more are yet to be reported due to how the conflict has scattered people. Targeted killings of human rights defenders and prominent figures include targeted killings of the brother of Sultan (King) of Masalit along with 16 members of his immediate family and the killing of three lawyers and their families. It was extremely dismaying to note that the national army was present and could do nothing to help or intervene to save lives.
DWAG is saddened to be mourning the death of a leader of unimpeachable integrity; while all government officials went into hiding or escaped, Mr. Abakar stuck to his moral compass and has repeatedly called for lifesaving intervention in the West Darfur region by both the international and regional community. Mr. Abakar had been repeatedly outspoken about the atrocities being committed against his people and other ethnic minorities in El Geneina; his values and voice have sadly cost him his life. The RSF killed him along with his brother and son.
People who were prevented from fleeing and forced into the killing fields were finally left to feel while escorted out of their homeland at gunpoint by the RSF, the latter cheering in celebration of the "liberation of Masslit land from Abeed (Arabic word for slaves) to be now called the land of Arabs", as an RSF leader stated in one of the videos widely circulated online. What is happening in Darfur today, particularly El Geneina, is a genocide that should prompt international action. The massive exodus of more than 50,000 people of El Geneina running for their lives to find safe refuge was the most horrifying and shocking scene of people uprooted from their homes in recent history. It's a nightmare for members of the Darfuri and Sudanese diaspora, many of whom must watch their families slaughtered and some forced to flee in videos broadcasted by Janjaweed members celebrating their violence.
UN leaders have spoken out to condemn the ethnic violence in El Geneina but, disappointingly, have yet to take serious action to protect civilians or save lives, including reaching over 3 thousand abandoned wounded people in El Geneina. US and other international leaders have issued a strong condemnation, but the time is not for condemnation; serious and swift action must take place before it's too late. Today, Darfur faces systematic and fast-approaching full-scale genocide that only immediate and resolute international action can stop.
Last week, Darfuri diaspora from all walks of life met and called on the United States and the UNSC to place Darfur under International Trusteeship as the only option to stop the killing of millions in Darfur. We urge you to speak up for the people of Sudan and particularly Darfur, where genocidal attacks are perpetrated on daily bases and at a fast pace against innocent people who have nowhere to turn. The situation is expected to worsen, and the people of the Darfur region are suffering beyond our imagination. We call on you to speak up and tell our leaders, including the United States and the other Member States of the UN Security Council, that they must take immediate action and not look the other way in the face of genocide. They must uphold their legal and moral obligation to intervene to save lives and hold the perpetrators accountable. Urgent international intervention is needed in the Darfur region to prevent more atrocities from occurring in this escalating crisis.
Please use your voice to speak up. We will update you with a letter and press statement to support the Darfuri call for international trusteeship to be implemented in Darfur.
Thank you for your continued support! Stay tuned for more opportunities to take action.
Niemat Ahmadi, Founder and President, and Darfur Women Action Group Team