Investigations Launched into Alleged War Crimes and Sexual Violence in Sudan

news 18-Jul-2023 Africa

"The State in Sudan No Longer Exists"

Lootings and Rapes, Food Shortages and Nationwide Conflicts: Three months after the escalation of violence in Sudan, there seems to be no end in sight to the power struggle. The state appears to be crumbling.

The news coming out of Sudan in recent days and weeks has been alarming: lootings and rapes by militias, as well as a shortage of food and medicine. Most recently, a mass grave containing nearly 90 bodies was discovered in the Sudanese region of Darfur.


For a few days and weeks, the conflicts in Sudan dominated the headlines, but after the evacuation of foreign nationals was completed, attention seemed to gradually fade away. However, the fighting continues three months later, with no end in sight.


While the conflicts initially centered around the capital city of Khartoum three months ago, the violence has now spread throughout the entire country. The situation in Sudan, which is more than five times the size of Germany, is difficult to grasp. Several negotiated ceasefires have already failed.


Institutions Unable to Fulfill Their Duties

The Sudanese state as it used to exist seems to be no more. "The state in Sudan, as we knew it before, no longer exists. All state institutions are unable to fulfill their duties," says Amani al-Tawil, an expert at the Egyptian al-Ahram Center for Strategic Studies.


On one side of the power struggle in Sudan stands General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who leads the military, and on the other side is his former deputy, Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, also known as "Hemeti," who commands the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). The situation is "really complicated" as the actors involved are not interested in ending the conflict, explains al-Tawil.

The military and the RSF paramilitaries staged a coup together in Sudan about a year and a half ago but promised to relinquish control to a civilian government. An important step towards a transitional government was the integration of the Rapid Support Forces into the military, but that failed.


The power struggle between the once-allied generals escalated into violence in April. With fighter jets, tanks, and heavy artillery, the troops of al-Burhan and Hemeti are fighting each other, sometimes in densely populated residential areas. Even three months after the start of the conflicts, there is no one who seems to have the military upper hand, according to observers.

Local Population Suffers from the Clashes

There is definitely one clear loser: millions of Sudanese people who are suffering from the conflicts. According to recent reports, around 3,000 people have died in the fighting. However, experts suspect that the death toll could be much higher. Many regions are simply inaccessible to observers.


62-year-old Sudanese woman Entsar al-Aakly recently fled from the capital city of Khartoum to Egypt, where she found refuge with relatives. She shares her experience: "The situation is very bad. When I fled, the war was in full swing. There were many dead and injured. Many houses were occupied and looted by militias. When we left, they destroyed everything in my house. Even the bookshelf - I don't understand what they have against books."

Like al-Aakly, about three million people have been displaced by the fighting, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Those who can afford it try to seek safety in neighboring countries, with around 700,000 finding refuge in Chad, Egypt, or South Sudan.


Experts Fear Destabilization of the Region

Providing assistance to the people in Sudan has become increasingly difficult, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The work of aid workers has become very dangerous due to the conflicts. Aid warehouses are repeatedly looted, and staff from non-governmental organizations are struggling to obtain visas to enter the country.


"The war must end. I don't want to give up hope for an end to the war. The war must end as soon as possible for our country and our people," emphasizes al-Aakly.

The United Nations warns that the conflict has taken on an ethnic dimension, with about 200 ethnic groups living together in Sudan under difficult conditions. In the region of Darfur, plagued by hunger and drought, serious human rights abuses have occurred in the past.

If the conflict were to escalate into a full-fledged civil war, the United Nations fears destabilization of the entire region with unforeseeable consequences.

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