One year on, Türk warns of further escalation: Sudan conflict


GENEVA (15 April 2024) – On the first anniversary the outbreak of the armed conflict in Sudan, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk warned of a further escalation in violence as parties to the conflict arm civilians, and more armed groups join the fighting.

“The Sudanese people have been subjected to untold suffering during the conflict which has been marked by indiscriminate attacks in densely populated areas, ethnically-motivated attacks, and a high incidence of conflict-related sexual violence. The recruitment and use of children by parties to the conflict are also deeply concerning,” said Türk.

“Civilians have already suffered immensely and with reports over the weekend of an imminent attack on El-Fasher, North Darfur, there is an alarming risk of further violations and abuses against civilians amid a still worsening humanitarian crisis across the country. The fighting must end.”

Three armed groups have said they are joining the conflict on the side of the Sudanese Armed Forces, and there are reports that both they and the Rapid Support Forces are now arming civilians. Arrest warrants recently issued against leading civilian figures, including former Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok, on charges that do not appear to be substantiated and some of which carry the death penalty, also risk exacerbating the situation.

“To give a peaceful resolution to the ongoing conflict a chance, a contraction rather than an expansion in the number of armed actors is needed,” said Türk.

“Additionally, any moves to curtail the participation of civilian political leaders in the conduct of public affairs, including by threat of arrest, are counterproductive and must be abandoned.

“The Sudanese authorities must immediately revoke the arrest warrants against Hamdok and other civilian leaders and prioritize confidence-building measures towards a ceasefire as a first step, followed by a comprehensive resolution of the conflict and the restoration of a civilian government,” he added.

Since fighting broke out on 15 April 2023, thousands of civilians have been killed, injured, forcibly disappeared, arbitrarily arrested and detained. There have also been reports of torture committed by both parties. Thousands of homes, schools, hospitals, and other essential civilian infrastructure have been destroyed, plunging the country into a severe humanitarian crisis, and creating the world’s largest displacement crisis.

“Over eight million people have been displaced from their homes, more than two million of them to neighbouring countries. Nearly 18 million people face acute food insecurity, 14 million of them children, and over 70 percent of hospitals are no longer functional amid a rise in infectious diseases. This catastrophic situation must not be allowed to continue,” said the High Commissioner.

Türk called on all parties to ensure humanitarian and human rights workers are allowed safe and unhindered access to all areas under their respective control. They must also take meaningful steps to prevent further civilian suffering and ensure violations of international humanitarian and human rights laws are fully investigated and those found responsible held to account in fair trials and victims provided with reparations.

The High Commissioner decried the enduring pattern of arbitrary arrests and detention, as well as intimidation and threats against civil society representatives, human rights defenders and journalists, among others.

“There can be no sustainable pathway forward for Sudan without the participation of civil society organizations, who notably have done a commendable job in support of human rights under exceedingly difficult circumstances since the conflict began,” he said.

Türk urged all parties to cooperate with the Designated Expert on the human rights situation in Sudan, Radhouane Nouicer, and the Fact-Finding Mission established by the UN Human Rights Council. Sudanese authorities should grant them access to Sudan.

/Public Release. View in full here.