(New York) – The international community should mobilize to address the disaster unfolding “before our eyes,” Tirana Hassan, executive director of Human Rights Watch, and the leaders of over 50 international human rights and humanitarian organizations said today. Their statement notes that Sudan is “no longer at the precipice of mass atrocities; it has fallen over the edge.”
Almost five months since fighting broke out in Khartoum, Sudan’s capital, the conflict, rife with human rights abuses, has now spread to Darfur and the states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile. Sexual violence is rising, civilians are facing widespread deliberate and indiscriminate attacks, and journalists and human rights defenders are being silenced. But, the United Nations Security Council, which has had Sudan on the agenda for decades, has yet to pass a single substantive resolution grappling with the ongoing crisis.
“The UN Security Council should move from talk to action and begin negotiations to pass a resolution that challenges the climate of impunity, reiterates that international law requires providing safe, unhindered humanitarian access, and redirects international efforts to better protect Sudan’s most vulnerable,” the leaders said in their joint statement.
The senior leaders’ appeal, which they referred to as an attempt to “sound the alarm,” was issued on September 13 to coincide with a meeting of the Security Council on the situation in Sudan. The statement warns that, “the costs of inaction are mounting.” The leaders committed to work together to urge “more aid to, more solidarity with, and greater attention to the needs of Sudan’s civilians.”
Inside Sudan, over 20 million people, 42 percent of Sudan’s population, face acute food insecurity and 6 million are just a step away from famine. At least 498 children have died from hunger. Clinics and doctors have come under fire throughout the country, putting 80 percent of the country’s major hospitals out of service. Since April, when open hostilities began in Khartoum, more than five million people have been forced to flee their homes and hundreds of thousands of others may soon be forced to join them.
Comments from senior leaders endorsing the statement:
“In the face of mounting atrocities in Sudan, the Security Council has neglected its responsibility to robustly respond,” said Tirana Hassan, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “The world’s foremost body on international peace and security should not remain silent in the face of grave international crimes.”
“In the past few months, we’ve seen the refugee camps where we work in Chad swell with people forced from their homes,” said Mark Hetfield, president and CEO of the refugee protection organization HIAS. “Darfuris are arriving hungry, wounded, and traumatized. They need urgent assistance and protection, but they also need the world to mobilize for an end to the targeted violence that is causing so much death, devastation, and displacement across Sudan.”
“After Rwanda, the world promised that we would never again allow genocide and other mass atrocities to take place on the African continent,” said Niemat Ahmadi, president and founder of the Darfur Women’s Action Group. “Then, in 2003, Darfur shocked the world. But despite global outrage those most responsible were never brought to justice. It is heartbreaking to see the same patterns at work again. This time, such serious international crimes should not go unpunished.”
“Civilians in Sudan are caught in an endless cycle of death and destruction, with countless lives lost to violence in the last five months,” said Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s secretary general. “The Security Council cannot continue to look away: it should demand a significant increase in humanitarian support for Sudan, and extend the existing arms embargo to all of Sudan and ensure its enforcement.”