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Sudan: UN says 87 buried in mass grave in West Darfur

July 13, 2023

The UN Human Rights office said it had "credible information" that the Sudanese paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) were responsible for the killings.

A burnt out armored vehicle and a covered body pictured in the West Darfur state capital El Geneina on June 16, 2023
The UN said the bodies had been buried over the course of two days and that some of the dead were women and childrenImage: AFP via Getty Images

A mass grave containing the remains of at least 87 people, including ethnic Masalits, has been found in Sudan's West Darfur, the UN said on Thursday.

The UN Human Rights Office said it had "credible information" that Sudan's Rapid Support Forces (RSF) were responsible for the killings which allegedly took place last month.

Victims include women and children — UN

According to the UN, seven women and seven children were among the dead, who were killed in the West Darfur state capital El-Geneina between June 13-21.

Many were victims of violence that erupted following the killing of West Darfur Governor Khamis Abbaker, after he was taken into custody by the RSF. The UN said that according to witnesses, the dead lay in the streets for days.

The RSF then allegedly ordered locals to bury the victims on the outskirts of the city, the UN's human rights office said, in a process carried out over two days.

Mass grave with 87 bodies found in Darfur, Sudan

"I condemn in the strongest terms the killing of civilians and hors de combat individuals, and I am further appalled by the callous and disrespectful way the dead, along with their families and communities, were treated," UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk in a statement.

Türk called for a "prompt, thorough and independent investigation into the killings" and said that the culprits needed to be held accountable.

Egypt launches new mediation bid

Meanwhile, Egypt embarked on a fresh bid to halt fighting between Sudan's warring factions, using a summit of neighbouring states to try to revive international efforts to contain the war.

The leaders of Sudan's seven neighbours in a joint statement called on the warring parties to commit to a ceasefire, appealed to regional states not to interfere in the conflict, and agreed to facilitate delivery of aid.

They also warned of the possibility of Sudan's fragmentation or "descent into chaos that could lead to the spread of terrorism and organised crime" and called on the international community to meet aid pledges made last month.

Representatives of the RSF and Sudan's army did not appear at the summit. Some of the leaders attending said they welcomed the Egyptian initiative but hoped it could be coordinated with other diplomatic efforts.

Sudan crisis

Conflict in Sudan broke out in mid-April, following months of increasing tensions between the military, chaired by General Abdel Fattah Burhan, and the RSF, commanded by General Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo.

The fighting came 18 months after the two generals led a military coup in October 2021 which toppled a Western-backed civilian transitional government. Previous attempts at mediation have been unsuccessful.

More than 3 million people have been forced to flee their homes due to the fighting, with more than 700,000 entering neighboring countries.

Observers fear the entire region is at risk of destabilization.

kb/sms  (AFP, Reuters, AP)