Sudan Is Sinking

Daily Brief, September 13, 2023

Transcript

(content warning: conflict-related sexual violence)

Sudan is no longer “at the brink” of mass atrocities. It has fallen over the edge.

I’ve highlighted in this newsletter before how the international community has been neglecting the crisis in Sudan generally and tiptoeing around terror in Darfur specifically. The situation is only getting worse.

Five months ago, fighting broke out in Khartoum, Sudan’s capital. Since then, the conflict and its atrocities have spread to the western region of Darfur and the southern states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile. Civilians are facing deliberate attacks, sexual violence is rising, and those trying to report the horrors – journalists and human rights defenders – are being silenced.

The numbers can seem mind-numbing, but they demand our focus. More than five million people have been forced to flee their homes, and hundreds of thousands more may soon be forced to join them. Clinics and doctors have come under fire throughout Sudan, putting 80 percent of the country’s major hospitals out of service.

More than 20 million people, almost half of Sudan’s population, face acute food insecurity and six million are just a step away from famine. Some 500 children have died from hunger already.

The hate speech helping to drive the atrocities strongly suggests things will get worse still. We’ve seen language urging the targeting of communities based on the color of their skin and fighters going after civilians based on their ethnicity. Survivors of sexual violence heard their rapists tell them they wanted them to bear “our” babies. 

And yet, as all this has been unfolding over the past five months, governments around the world have been sitting on their hands. The United Nations Security Council, which has had Sudan on the agenda for decades, has yet to pass a single substantive resolution grappling with this deteriorating crisis.

Why does the Security Council even exist if not to address such calamities?

Enough is enough, say the leaders of more than 50 international human rights and humanitarian organizations. In a chilling new statement timed to coincide with a meeting of the Security Council on the situation in Sudan, they are calling on the Security Council to act.

The first step would be a resolution that advances justice for victims of the horrific violence. The perpetrators must be held accountable. The Security Council also needs to push for safe, unhindered humanitarian access.

The alarm bell of mass atrocity crimes is ringing. It’s been ringing louder and louder for months. Our governments should stop ignoring it.