UN calls for de-escalation as fighting intensifies for control of North Darfur state capital

UN calls for de-escalation as fighting intensifies for control of North Darfur state capital

Fighting has intensified in western Sudan. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has expressed grave concerns over the worsening situation in and around the city of El-Fasher located in North Darfur.

The spokesperson for the UN human rights chief briefed reporters Friday (Apr. 26).

“Reports indicate that both parties have launched indiscriminate attacks using explosive weapons with wide-area effects, such as mortar shells and rockets fired from fighter jets, in residential districts,” X Magango said. 

“At least 43 people, among them women and children, were killed as fighting was taking place between the SAF and RSF – backed by their respective allied militia – since 14 April, when the RSF began its push into El-Fasher.”

Speaking from Nairobi, Magango said Commissionner Volker Türk called for “an immediate de-escalation and an end to the conflict”. 

Türk also urges both parties to the conflict and their allies to grant civilians safe passage to other areas, ensure the protection of civilians and civilian objects, and facilitate safe and unhindered humanitarian access.

Ethnically-motivated violence

The spectre of ethnically-motivated violence still lurks.

“Since early April, the RSF has conducted several large-scale attacks on the villages in western El-Fasher mostly inhabited by the African Zaghawa ethnic community,” the spokesperson revealed.

Some of the villages, including Durma, Umoshosh, Sarafaya, and Ozbani were burnt down by the RSF.

Last year fighting and attacks between the Rizeigat and the African Masalit in West Darfur left hundreds of civilians dead or injured, and thousands displaced from their homes.

For now, civilians who haven’t fled El-Fasher live in exruciating anguish: “[they] are trapped in the city, the only one in Darfur still in the hands of the SAF, afraid of being killed should they attempt to flee.”

“This dire situation is compounded by a severe shortage of essential supplies as deliveries of commercial goods and humanitarian aid have been heavily constrained by the fighting, and delivery trucks are unable to freely transit through RSF-controlled territory,” Magango added.

Local media outlet Sudan Tribune reported that Minni Minnawi, the governor of the state of Darfur, who leads a militia that back the national army, accuses the RSF of seeking to establish an unrecognized entity in the region.

Additional sources • OHCHR – Sudan Tribune

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