New Revelations: Children Executed in Ethnic Cleansing of Darfur

Sudanese refugees stay in tents in Koufroune, Chad, May 10, 2023. The war in Sudan has unleashed a new wave of violence in the western region of Darfur, sending tens of thousands into neighboring Chad, where a new humanitarian crisis is looming. (Yagazie Emezi/The New York Times)

Recent accounts reveal one of the most horrific incidents in the year-long Sudanese civil war: the large-scale slaughter of civilians attempting to escape ethnic violence in Darfur last summer. Witnesses recount how the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a paramilitary group, callously gunned down fleeing civilians, including children, in El Geneina in June of the previous year, resulting in thousands of deaths. Human Rights Watch (HRW) has amassed 221 witness statements, underscoring the RSF’s concerted year-long campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Masalit tribe, a non-Arab community in West Darfur.

In response to these atrocities, HRW calls for immediate action from the United Nations and African Union, urging the imposition of an arms embargo on Sudan and the deployment of a robust police force to safeguard civilians in Darfur. The organization also demands sanctions against those responsible for these grave war crimes, including key RSF figures.

Since the conflict erupted in April 2023, over 8 million people have been displaced, creating a humanitarian crisis of unprecedented scale, according to the UN. El Fasher, the remaining city under Sudanese military control in Darfur, is surrounded by the RSF, prompting fears of an imminent large-scale massacre by diplomats.

Tirana Hassan, HRW’s executive director, emphasizes that the atrocities witnessed in El Geneina serve as a stark warning of potential further bloodshed without concerted intervention. One particularly chilling incident involved the RSF ambushing a convoy of civilians attempting to leave El Geneina, leading to numerous casualties, including those who drowned in the Kaja River. Additional attacks targeted tens of thousands of civilians seeking refuge near the Chad border, underscoring the urgent need for action to halt the ongoing violence and protect vulnerable populations.