US, UK and Norway condemn violence in Darfur 'in strongest terms'

Countries urged warring sides to return to negotiating table

Smoke rises over Khartoum as fighting between the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces continues. AP
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Washington, London and Oslo joined forces on Friday to condemn “in the strongest terms” the escalating violence in the Darfur region of Sudan, warning of potential ethnic violence.

The North African country has been gripped by violence since mid-April, when a power struggle between rival generals erupted into a full-scale conflict that has spread from the streets of the capital Khartoum to the Darfur region, the scene of a genocidal war in the early 2000s.

Human Rights Watch reported that satellite data has revealed a massive fire engulfing the town of Sirba. According to the advocacy group, it is the seventh village in west Darfur to be razed since the start of the conflict.

At least 2,800 people have been killed in the conflict, according to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project, though the real number is probably much higher, as aid agencies and monitoring groups have struggled to operate in the increasingly dangerous country.

More than 3.7 million Sudanese have been displaced within the country and at least 800,000 people have fled to neighbouring nations, according to the UN.

The US, Britain and Norway said they were alarmed by “reports of killings based on ethnicity and widespread sexual violence by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and allied militias”.

The trio called for an immediate cessation of these attacks and for those responsible to be held accountable.

“The expansion of the needless and ruinous conflict between RSF and the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) to Darfur has caused incalculable human suffering,” the countries said.

“Those responsible for any atrocities against civilians, especially those including Conflict Related Sexual Violence and the targeting of humanitarian relief actors, medical personnel and other service providers must be held to account.”

The group added they were “gravely concerned” about reports of a military build-up near El Fasher in northern Darfur and Nyala in the southern part of the region, and warned that further violence would put even more civilians in danger.

They urged the RSF and Sudanese military to “silence” their weapons and return to the negotiating table.

Updated: August 04, 2023, 7:38 PM