Sudan: Protect civilians as armed conflict escalates

The international community including the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the African Union, Arab League  and the United Nations should act in a timely manner to prevent a civil war in Sudan, global civil society alliance, CIVICUS, said  today.  

According to the Central Sudanese Medical Committee, more 144 people have been killed and 1409 wounded since violence broke out in Khartoum and other cities between amy units loyal to the head of the Transitional Governing Sovereign Council - General Abdel Fattah al-Bueham and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) led by his deputy - General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo. If nothing is done urgently to stop the violence, it will escalate to other areas.  

The violence started on 15 April over a disagreement on the integration of the RSF into the military as part of a transition towards restoring civilian rule. Sudan has faced increasing political instability as the military and RSF compete for power and influence since a military coup on 25 October 2021. The coup removed a transitional civilian government that assumed power in August 2019 as part of a power sharing agreement between a coalition of civilian actors known as the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC) and the military.  

The current conflagration of violence is a culmination of ongoing tensions between the military and the RSF over a reluctance by both parties to swiftly hand over power to a civilian government. The international community should exert pressure on the belligerents to call a cease fire to prevent an upsurge in human rights violations.  Said David Kode, Advocacy and Campaigns Lead at CIVICUS. 

Violations to fundamental freedoms increased following the October 2021 coup and violence was used against protesters who held demonstrations condemning the coup and who called for a return to civilian rule. More than 117 people are reported to have been killed and 6000 wounded as security forces including the anti-riot police and central reserve police continuously used live ammunition to disperse protesters. For example on 30 June 2022,  people were killed during protests while 7 people were killed and 163 injured during protests in January 2022 as security forces used live ammunition. 

Women protesters have been particularly targeted with violence and sexual abuse. On 16 June for example two women protesters were arrested and sexually assaulted by police and in March 2022, Najat Babikir was shot as the central reserve forces fired live ammunition into the crowds causing her to lose sight in one eye.  Several other women were wounded in the process. In the course of the protests, the authorities shut down access to the internet while medical staff assisting protesters were intimidated.  

The failure of the Sudanese authorities and especially the military to prioritise justice and accountability since 2019 and after the October 2021 coup is one of the factors that has contributed to repeated cycles of violence. Women have been subjected to violence and sexual abuse and in June 2019 more than 128 people were killed. The perpetrators of these acts have still not been held accountable.

We call on the African Union, IGAD, Arab League and the United Nations to; 

  • Urge the Sudanese military and RSF to stop the fighting immediately and agree on a cease fire.
  • Urge all parties to open up humanitarian corridors for access to civilians. 
  • Call on the belligerents to respect the rights of all Sudanese and hold those responsible for human rights violations accountable. 
  • Call on all the parties to respect all of the basic human rights of the people, including women and children.

Sudan is rated repressed by the CIVICUS Monitor, a research platform that provides quantitative and qualitative data on the state of civil society and civic freedoms in 196 countries and territories.



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