Smoke rises from Sudan’s capital in April 2023
Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces (RSF), an Arab militia, slaughtered 1600 people and injured 2000 others at a camp for displaced people in Sudan’s West Darfur region between November 2 and November 5.
“They went house to house to search for men and killed each one they found,” said Montesser Saddam, who fled to the neighboring country of Chad on November 5. “There were so many corpses in the streets.”
The latest atrocities are part of a wider campaign by the RSF and its allied militias to eradicate the non-Arab Masalit tribe from West Darfur.
The RSF was set up by former Sudan President Omar al-Bashir. In 2003, he armed Arab tribal militias and tasked them with crushing a mostly non-Arab rebellion in Darfur by engaging in ethnic cleansing. About 400,000 people, mostly non-Arab black Africans, died in combat, famine, and disease, in the following years. These tribal militias became the RSF.
Now, the violence has resumed. “They want to ethnically cleanse us,” said Nahid Hamid, a Masalit human rights lawyer who fled to Cairo, Egypt. Hamid displayed a video that shows an RSF fighter holding a machine gun and speaking to the camera.
In the background, another fighter can be heard saying in Arabic, “Land of the Masalit? There is no more land for the Masalit.”
According to a local human rights organisation, six Masalit tribal leaders and their families were killed during last week’s attack on the camp in Ardamata, a town in West Darfur.
85-year-old Mohamad Arbab was one of them. RSF fighters stormed his home and killed him, his son and eight grandchildren. The Darfur Bar Association reports that the Masalit tribal leader Abdelbasit Dina was also killed with his wife, son and 50 other residents from their community. “They want to kill [our leaders] so they can replace us with their own as well as Arabs from countries like Chad and Niger,” Hamid said, referring to the Arab mercenaries who have joined the RSF from across the region.
About 1.5 million Arabs live in neighboring Chad, which is inhabited mainly by black Africans, and about another 100,000 live in Niger. Many of these Arabs are as black as the surrounding non-Arab-speaking peoples, having intermarried with them, and lived near them, for centuries. Sudanese Arabs are mostly black, although a minority in northern Sudan are predominantly white.
Russian Wagner mercenaries are helping the RSF. In response, Ukrainian special services reportedly mounted” a series of drone strikes and a ground operation directed against a Wagner-backed militia near Sudan’s capital,” according to CNN. Later, an elite Ukrainian military unit reportedly arrived in Sudan to hunt down Wagner fighters.
The RSF has largely destroyed the city of El Geneina, the capital of West Darfur province, and the home to 250,000 people, most of them Masalit. Over 15,000 people had already been killed in the city of El Geneina by mid-June, and up to three-quarters of its population had fled to the neighboring country of Chad, one of the poorest and most backward countries on Earth. Bodies lay in the street, and lay by the side of the road all the way to Chad.
Sudan’s army created the RSF, which later turned on the army, and seized most of Sudan’s capital this year. Thousands of corpses have rotted on the streets of Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, and the neighboring big city of Omdurman. The RSF is fighting Sudan’s army for control of the country.
By August, more than 13.6 million children were in urgent need of humanitarian assistance in Sudan as fighting has cut off the transportation of food stuffs. Children in orphanages have died in droves as snipers and fighting make it hard for orphanage workers to go to markets to buy food, or even get to work to feed the orphans. In one orphanage in Sudan’s capital, at least 60 infants, toddlers and older children perished while trapped in harrowing conditions as fighting raged outside. Most died from lack of food and from fever.