An Impending Catastrophe in El Fasher, North Darfur
RSF Threatens Civilians with an Onslaught, International Humanitarian Law at Risk
In a chilling turn of events, the United States has voiced its profound distress over impending reports of a massive offensive by Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces (RSF) on El Fasher in North Darfur. This ominous development could place countless civilians, including hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons, in grave danger.
These individuals, many of whom have only recently sought refuge in El Fasher, face a precarious situation as credible reports suggest that both the RSF and the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) have failed to take adequate measures to protect civilians in the residential neighborhoods of El Fasher.
Urgent Plea for Ceasefire
The United States is urgently calling on the warring parties to cease all hostilities in and around El Fasher, emphasizing the crucial need to uphold their obligations under international humanitarian law. These obligations were reaffirmed in the May 11 Jeddah Declaration of Commitment to Protect the Civilians of Sudan.
Governor Nimr Abdulrahman’s plea for the warring parties to allow civilians to move to safer areas echoes this call, emphasizing the dire need for an immediate ceasefire.
Escalation in El Fasher Amidst Widespread RSF Offensives
The escalation in El Fasher comes on the heels of recent RSF offensives in Nyala, Zalengei, and other areas within Darfur. The U.S. condemns the reported abuses by the RSF and its allied forces during their assault on Nyala, which include civilian casualties, arbitrary arrests, detention of medical personnel, and the looting of health facilities.
International Diplomacy and Humanitarian Access Crucial
The United States implores the SAF and RSF to utilize the recently resumed Jeddah talks as a crucial opportunity to facilitate unhindered humanitarian access. In addition, both parties should earnestly reach agreements on ceasefires and other confidence-building measures.
The key message here is that a military resolution to the conflict is unequivocally unacceptable. Instead, the primary focus must be directed towards safeguarding civilians, providing vital humanitarian assistance, and actively engaging in negotiations to bring a definitive end to this protracted and devastating conflict.
Timeline of the War in Sudan
A Deepening Humanitarian Nightmare
The escalating crisis in the Sudan conflict has been marked by a series of events:
- April 15, 2023: Eruption of fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in the capital, Khartoum, and the western region of Darfur.
- April 25, 2023: The SAF and RSF sign a ceasefire agreement, which is quickly broken.
- May 10, 2023: The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) adopts a resolution calling for an immediate end to the fighting and urging parties to engage in dialogue.
- June 15, 2023: The UNSC condemns the relentless fighting and expresses deep concern about the deteriorating humanitarian situation.
- July 24, 2023: The war in Sudan reaches the grim milestone of 100 days, with no signs of respite.
- August 11, 2023: The UNSC holds a meeting to discuss the latest developments in Sudan but fails to agree on concrete action.
- September 1, 2023: The UN Humanitarian and Emergency Relief Chief declares Sudan to be “one of the worst humanitarian nightmares in recent history.”
- October 16, 2023: The Council on Foreign Relations reports that the war in Sudan has claimed more than 9,000 lives and displaced 5.6 million.
- November 2, 2023: The U.S. State Department expresses deep concern over credible reports of RSF intensifying shelling around Nyala, South Darfur, and Karari Omdurman, deepening the suffering of the Sudanese people.
Latest Reports of a Possible Large-Scale Attack by Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces
Ticking Time Bomb in Darfur
On November 2, 2023, the U.S. State Department expressed profound apprehension over credible reports indicating that the RSF was preparing for a large-scale attack in Darfur. The State Department has warned that such an attack could further destabilize the region, exacerbating the already dire humanitarian crisis.
Rising Toll on Civilians
The reports of a possible RSF attack come at a time when the ongoing war in Sudan has inflicted a devastating toll on the civilian population. The United Nations estimates that over 9,000 people have lost their lives, and 5.6 million have been displaced since the conflict erupted in April 2023.
RSF: A Notorious Paramilitary Group
The RSF, a paramilitary group formed in 2013 to quell the rebellion in Darfur, has faced numerous allegations of egregious human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings, rape, and torture.
Impending Humanitarian Catastrophe
If the RSF launches a large-scale attack in Darfur, it could trigger a humanitarian catastrophe of even greater proportions. The UN has issued warnings about the region’s severe food crisis, stating that any further displacement could lead to widespread starvation.
Urgent International Action Needed
The international community is facing an urgent imperative to prevent the RSF from initiating a large-scale attack in Darfur. The United States and other nations must utilize their diplomatic leverage to pressure the Sudanese government to halt the violence and engage in dialogue with the opposition.
Furthermore, the UN should consider imposing sanctions on the RSF for its documented human rights violations. The time for action is now, as countless lives hang in the balance.