Dehai News Will Washington Sanction Sudan’s RSF?

Posted by: Berhane Habtemariam

Date: Wednesday, 24 April 2024

Lawmakers are calling for direct measures against the group’s leader, Hemeti.

Nosmot Gbadamosi
By Nosmot Gbadamosi, a multimedia journalist and the writer of Foreign Policy’s weekly Africa Brief.
Ishag Abdullah Khatir, 30 from Geneina in West Sudan whose leg was amputated after he was shot by RSF soldiers, walks through Ambelia refugee camp on April 20 in Adre, Chad.

The lawmakers have given Biden 120 days to determine whether the RSF has carried out human rights atrocities and whether the president intends to impose sanctions.

Last September, the U.S. imposed sanctions on Hemeti’s brother, Abdelrahim Hamdan Dagalo, who is the RSF’s deputy commander, and Abdul Rahman Juma, the group’s top general in West Darfur.

At a meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Friday, U.N. officials said around 800,000 people in the North Darfur capital of El Fasher are in “extreme and immediate danger” due to fighting between the RSF and the Darfur Joint Protection Forces—non-Arab rebel groups aligned with the Sudanese army.

U.N. political affairs chief Rosemary DiCarlo told the 15-member Security Council that reports of a possible “imminent” RSF attack on El Fasher, which serves as a humanitarian hub, raises “the specter of a new front in the conflict.” DiCarlo added that “fighting in El Fasher could unleash bloody intercommunal strife throughout Darfur.”

Earlier this month, clashes between the RSF and the Joint Protection Forces erupted in Mellit, a strategic town to the north of El Fasher. And west of the city, satellite imagery analyzed by Yale University’s Humanitarian Research Lab indicated that at least nine communities had been razed and torched by RSF militias between March 31 and April 15.

The predominantly ethnically Arab RSF and various local Arab militias have targeted Zaghawa, Masalit, Fur, and other non-Arab ethnic groups, killing thousands. There have been numerous accounts of women and girls being raped, sold in markets, and forced into prostitution by the RSF and allied militia.

The atrocities resemble a repeat of the civil war that began in Darfur in 2003, when Arab “janjaweed” militias killed thousands of non-Arabs. By 2008, around 300,000 people had been killed and 2.5 million displaced.

In the current conflict, U.N. relief agencies have raised the alarm on risks of famine following reported deaths from starvation. A conference in Paris last week raised 2 billion euros ($2.1 billion) in international aid for Sudan. But security experts say that the solution to ending the conflict is to stop the supply of foreign arms.

DiCarlo told council members that the war was being fueled by weapons from foreign nations that flout U.N. sanctions. Foreign supply of arms “has been the main reason why this war has lasted for so long,” said Mohamed Ibn Chambas, the chairman of the African Union’s panel on Sudan and high representative for its “Silence the Guns in Africa” initiative.

The war has drawn in regional militias and nations including Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Russia and Ukraine. It has displaced 9 million people—around four times the entire population of Gaza—but has been met with little media attention. “Through the sounds of gunfire and shelling, the people of Sudan have heard our silence,” Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, wrote last month.

Rights groups have called for support in establishing international investigations and direct consequences for the warring generals and foreign allies, as suggested by U.S. lawmakers. Peace negotiations are to resume in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, within the next three weeks, according to local media.

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