SIHA Network applauds the Human Rights Council vote to pass the motion to establish a fact-finding mission on Sudan. This is an important step toward ensuring that perpetrators of human rights abuses and war crimes will be held accountable. We are grateful to the solidarity of African women across the continent who stood strongly by the women of Sudan. Read the full letter below.
Letter from civil society advocating for passage of the motion to establish a fact-finding mission on Sudan
We, the undersigned feminist and women’s rights civil society organizations, write to you regarding the devastating challenges and horrific circumstances facing the people of Sudan, particularly regarding the war and its impacts on women and girls. On April 15, an armed conflict erupted in Sudan between the Rapid Support Force (RSF) and the Sudan Armed Force (SAF). On the same day, Greater Khartoum was fully occupied by the RSF. Residents of the city’s homes and neighbourhoods were taken over by the RSF, particularly in central Khartoum, the airport area, around the river Nile in Omdurman, around the Sudanese national radio and television stations, and in Northern Khartoum. The first cases of sexual violence were reported as of April 15.
Over ten women and under-aged girls were reported being gang raped during the first hours of the conflict in greater Khartoum. Atrocities against civilians and women have continued to date, including sexual violence, looting of women’s and their families homes and businesses, forced evacuations, occupation of civilians’ homes, enforced disappearance, kidnapping, and forced labour. Greater Khartoum was home to over 7 million Sudanese people, at least 2 million of whom were IDPs and refugees, and the majority were urban poor. The war has forced women and girls to either be subjected to direct violence in greater Khartoum or to flee for their lives. At the moment, greater Khartoum is experiencing a Cholera outbreak due to the massive number of dead bodies that have infected the water source.
Around the same time, violence erupted in Darfur. In Al Geneina, the capital city of West Darfur, thousands of people have tragically lost their lives. They were killed in their homes, on the streets, and even in medical clinics as they sought refuge. Some attempted to hide in mosques but found no safety there. This devastating conflict has also witnessed hundreds of women enduring sexual violence. At the same time, critical infrastructure has been utterly destroyed, including schools and hospitals. The displacement camps surrounding the city have suffered a similar fate. Heartbreakingly, women and children have perished while attempting to escape; some even shot while struggling to cross rivers, desperately trying to survive.
The scale of targeted attacks by the RSF against civilians based on their ethnicity constitutes genocide. This genocide has resulted in credible reports of 13 mass graves in El Geneina. Sexual violence against women and girls is part of the RSF’s strategy to dehumanize the Masalit, rob them of their lands and wealth, and utterly subordinate women and girls. Mere hours after a television appearance in which he denounced the atrocities being perpetuated by the RSF in Al Geneina, the Governor of West Darfur was abducted and murdered by the RSF. After the murder, his body was dragged through the city and left out in a visible location to intimidate and dehumanize El Geneina community leaders,
The unbridled manner in which the RSF carries out these crimes against humanity is the result of years of impunity for their war crimes and human rights violations in Darfur and other parts of Sudan, which have encouraged the RSF to commit atrocities without fear of accountability. Most essential services, including electricity, internet, and running water, have been compromised in the conflict-affected areas of the nation. Countless schools, hospitals, public offices, and peoples’ homes are being wantonly looted, primarily by RSF soldiers on the ground. Hundreds of thousands of civilians have been forced from their homes by RSF soldiers in fear of sexual violence, killing, or abduction for ransom.
Across the country, this conflict had resulted in over 5,000 deaths and more than 12,000 injuries within five months. Beyond those killed or injured directly, more than 100 women have died from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth due to their lack of access to medical services and facilities resulting from the conflict’s pervasive impact and the deliberate targeting of these vital healthcare facilities, particularly by the RSF. Hundreds of women and children were killed in the crossfire between the SAF and the RSF and other armed militia in greater Khartoum and in Darfur and Kordofan.
With rule-of-law institutions and mechanisms grounded to a halt and medical services severely compromised, women and girls have nowhere to turn for justice or urgently needed medical attention. For the women and girls trapped in the greater Khartoum, Kordofan, the Blue Nile, and Darfur, targeted attacks of rape and gang-rape have become commonplace, as well as women and girls being abducted by the RSF and forced to serve as unpaid domestic and sex laborers within the households of RSF soldiers. There are also reports of the RSF selling kidnapped women and girls within the Darfur region.
The full extent of the atrocities committed against civilians by the warring parties and as a result of the current conflict remains unknown as Sudan continues to slide into an armed conflict where civilians, women, and girls’ bodies are used as a weapon of war. It is particularly difficult to confirm the extent of the human rights violations in Darfur as the RSF has been preventing civilians from escaping to safer areas, and the RSF has also targeted, assaulted, tortured, and killed human rights defenders in the region who are known for reporting on human rights violations.
We, therefore, urge you on behalf of the people of your nation, to take decisive action in support of the civilian population of Sudan, with a particular focus on the welfare of women and girls. As a member of the Human Rights Council and a signatory to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, your nation holds a moral obligation to prevent genocide and uphold human rights. We respectfully request that you fulfil this responsibility by taking public action, specifically by voting to support the motion to establish a fact-finding mission on Sudan with a mandate that includes investigating violations, collecting and preserving evidence, and identifying those responsible.
- Addis Powerhouse, Ethiopia
- Allamin Foundation for Peace and Development, Nigeria
- Association Voix de Femmes, Burkina Faso
- BAOBAB for Women’s Human Rights, Nigeria
- Beza for Women Community Based Development Association, Ethiopia
- Coalition on Violence Against Women (COVAW), Kenya
- Conseil d’Administration de WANEP / MALI (West Africa Network for Peacebuilding), Mali
- Consortium of Ethiopian Human Rights, Ethiopia
- Daryeel Human Rights Organisation (DHRO), Somalia
- Haki Nawiri Afrika, Kenya
- Her Voice Liberia, Liberia
- Human Rights Centre Somaliland, Somalia
- Kadirat, Tunisia
- Kalkal Human Rights Development Organization (KAHRDO), Somalia
- l’AJM (Association des Juristes Maliennes ), Mali
- Legal and Human Rights Centre, Tanzania
- ONG L’étoile du Bounkani, Côte d’Ivoire
- Love for Children Organisation, Ethiopia
- Marginalized Communities Advocacy Network (MCAN), Somalia
- Mission for Community Development, Ethiopia
- Mouvement Feministe du Mali, Mali
- NAGAAD Network, Somalia
- Network Against FGM/C in Somaliland (NAFIS), Somalia
- Network of Ethiopia Women Associations, Ethiopia
- REPSFECO / MALI (Réseau Paix et Sécurité des Femmes de l’Afrique de l’Ouest), Mali
- Setaweet, Ethiopia
- Siiqqee Women’s Development Association, Ethiopia
- Sudanese Archive, Sudan
- Tarkanfi Sustainable Development, Ethiopia
- The Association of Egyptian Female Lawyers, Egypt
- The Gambia Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children (GAMCOTRAP), The Gambia
- The New Generation Girls and Women Development Initiative (NIGAWD), Nigeria
- The Populace Foundation International (TPFI), Uganda
- The Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA) Network, Greater Horn of Africa
- Well Being Africa, South Africa
- Women Can Do It, Ethiopia
- Women for Justice and Equality, South Sudan
- Young Liberian Women Organization For Improvement (WOFIM), Liberia