UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on Wednesday called on the Sudanese authorities to protect the population of West Darfur and take urgent steps to prevent further outbreaks of communal violence after more than a hundred people were killed in attacks by armed assailants between 22 and 24 April.
“I am appalled by reports that at least 159 people were killed in Kerenik on 22 and 24 April, 107 injured and thousands displaced from their homes, and at least five villages in the region were also attacked,” she said. “I am concerned that this region continues to see repeated, serious incidents of intercommunal violence, with mass casualties. While initial measures taken by the authorities to calm tensions are welcome, I urge the authorities to address the underlying causes of violence in this region and fulfil their responsibility to protect the population.”
More than 1,000 armed members of the Arab Rzeigat community attacked Kerenik town on 22 April following the killing of two Rzeigat men by unknown perpetrators. At least eight men belonging to the African Masalit tribe and seven Arab men were killed in the attack and at least 17 people from the Masalit community were injured, including one woman and three children.
Joint security forces were deployed to Kerenik on 23 April but reportedly retreated in the face of another large-scale attack by Rzeigat assailants on 24 April, during which they took control of the town for several hours, looted and torched hundreds of shops and houses and opened fire on public buildings where many had sought shelter, including a hospital and a police station. At least 151 people were killed, including at least 27 women and 17 children, and more than 90 injured. Three people were reportedly killed inside the hospital, including two medical workers. The violence also spread to El Geneina, the capital of West Darfur.
Bachelet called on the authorities to take immediate action to protect the population and assist the wounded and displaced. “I urge the authorities to ensure that the many people injured in Kerenik, who have still not received medical care, are quickly and safely evacuated to hospitals, and to facilitate humanitarian assistance for the displaced.”
“I call on the Sudanese authorities to conduct prompt, thorough, impartial and independent investigations into these attacks and hold all those responsible to account in accordance with international human rights law. The victims and their families have a right to effective remedies.”
I also urge them to accelerate the long-delayed implementation of the security measures set out in the Juba Peace Agreement which stipulated the establishment of a joint security-keeping force to protect civilians in Darfur, and to implement the National Action Plan for the Protection of Civilians.”
The human rights situation in Sudan has continued to deteriorate since the military coup of 25 October 2021. The High Commissioner urges the Sudanese authorities to take credible steps to create an environment conducive to an inclusive political settlement that would put the democratic transition back on track. To this end, the High Commissioner supports the continued facilitation efforts of the UN-AU-IGAD tripartite mechanism.