Darfur Women Action Group (DWAG) is gravely concerned by the alarming level of violence in West Darfur. The attack on Kerrinek, West Darfur, began on Thursday, April 21, and has continued since. This has resulted in at least 201 casualties, 98 injured, most of whom are women and children, and an unspeakable amount of destruction. This has been one of the deadliest and most destructive attacks that innocent civilians in West Darfur have experienced in the last few years and is a new wave of genocidal violence that is being conducted systematically with impunity.
The attack started on Thursday, April 21, with the killing of two people by an unknown assailant around Kerrinek. On the following day, hundreds of armed Arab militiamen encircled Kereneik and began opening fire and going home to home and killing civilians. Credible sources and eyewitnesses on the ground have confirmed that the Janjaweed and Rapid Support Forces (RSF) were responsible for orchestrating these latest attacks. The violence has spread to El Geneina, as shootings erupted outside the main hospital, causing mass fear among residents. In addition, it was reported on Monday morning that militiamen have been terrorizing and preventing civilians from burying dead bodies at the cemetery in El Geneina. The military leader, General al-Burhan, deployed soldiers to Darfur to contain the attacks, however, witnesses have reported that the security forces have acted with little resistance to prevent or contain the violence.
This latest violent incident is eerily reminiscent of the violence that took place from January through April of 2021 in and around El Geneina, West Darfur, after the withdrawal of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID). The withdrawal of the peacekeeping force in Darfur means there are no civilian protection mechanisms in the region, leaving a security vacuum that makes people more vulnerable to violent attacks and with nowhere to turn for protection. Moreover, the October 25th military coup has further emboldened and energized the Janjaweed and RSF to escalate attacks in Darfur because they know they may commit these attacks without repercussions. The attacks across Darfur have inflicted unimaginable suffering and are a horrifying reminder of the millions of civilians in the region that remain vulnerable. Additionally, DWAG has received credible information that the RSF is mobilizing to escalate its attacks across Darfur. We fear that those who have survived will now be exterminated while the world is watching.
DWAG is especially concerned about the humanitarian crisis this has created, as the Darfur Bar Association stated that approximately 20,000 people had been displaced by the violence. This is on top of the soaring levels of displacement from the first two weeks of March following the violent attacks in other areas of West Darfur, in which more than 150,000 families were displaced. The increase in displacement demonstrates how the situation on the ground continues deteriorating and affecting those most vulnerable. Today the situation in West Darfur is extremely catastrophic, with unimaginable loss of lives and humanitarian crises inflicting unbearable pain and suffering on innocent men, women, and children. We fear that as violence continues to escalate, it will cause even higher levels of displacement and suffering for the people of Darfur. These attacks are systematic and directed toward civilians from the indigenous African tribes who were targeted during the genocidal campaign orchestrated by al-Bashir, which is still ongoing despite his ouster in 2019.
DWAG is further concerned about the news of the release of 13 former members of the National Congress Party (NCP) and Islamic fundamentalists, who were arrested in 2019 along with former President al-Bashir. This is alarming as, following their release, a coalition of ten Islamic political parties was formed. Among these ten Islamic political parties is the NCP, allowing the NCP to participate in future elections and bring back the genocidal and dictatorial era.
DWAG calls on President Biden to publicly denounce the escalated violence in Darfur and urges him to put pressure on Sudan to immediately end these attacks. We further call upon the international community to put pressure on the Sudanese military junta and assert that violence against civilians will not be tolerated. DWAG also urges the United Nations Security Council to take immediate action to authorize a United Nations force to protect civilians in Darfur. The United Nations Security Council must also immediately dispatch high-level Security Council delegates to investigate the situation and summon the military junta leaders before the Council for escalating this violence. The United Nations Security Council and the United States must demand unimpeded access to humanitarian agencies to aid in order to deliver emergency health and other life-saving assistance to those in need. Immediate action must be immediately taken in order to stop violence against innocent civilians before it is too late.
Since the October 25th coup, violence has escalated and hundreds have lost their lives, but world leaders have largely overlooked the situation in Sudan. Because of the silence and complicity of our leaders, the military in Sudan will continue to exterminate more civilians. We urge our supporters to join us in demanding President Biden and the United Nations Security Council members to publicly denounce the attack in West Darfur, disarm the Janjaweed and RSF, and ensure that those displaced are protected and provided with life-saving assistance.
We must collectively speak up and compel world leaders to act before it’s too late.
(c) Darfur Women Action Group