This image shows the remains of Imam al Kadhim School in El Geneina City, West Darfur State, which came under attack on April 27, 2023 for housing refugees who had been displaced due to fighting between the warring sides in Sudan. (Photo by UN)
Ethnic mass killings in one city alone in the West Darfur region of Sudan have left up to 15,000 dead, according to a UN report.
The UN report seen by Reuters on Friday said between 10,000 and 15,000 people were killed last year in West Darfur Stateís El Geneina City.
In the UN report, ethnic violence carried out by the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), and allied Arab militia fighting Sudanís Army led by the countryís de-facto ruler, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, was cited as the reason for the killings.
The RSF, however, has previously denied such reports, claiming that if any of its soldiers were found to be involved in ethnic violence, the perpetrators would be prosecuted and face justice.
Independent UN sanctions monitors attributed the death toll in El Geneina to "credible" intelligence sources.
Monitors wrote in the report, which was handed to the UN Security Council, that between April and June 2023, El Geneina experienced "intense violence," blaming the RSF and allies for targeting the ethnic African Masalit tribe in attacks that "may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity."
"The attacks were planned, coordinated, and executed by RSF and their allied Arab militias," the sanctions monitors wrote in their annual report. "When reaching RSF checkpoints women and men were separated, harassed, searched, robbed, and physically assaulted."
The monitors reported, "The RSF and allied militias indiscriminately shot hundreds of people in the legs to prevent them from fleeing."
"Young men were particularly targeted and interrogated about their ethnicity. If identified as Masalit, many were summarily executed with a shot to the head. Women were physically and sexually assaulted. Indiscriminate shootings also injured and killed women and children," the report added.
All the eyewitnesses interviewed by the monitors cited, "many dead bodies along the road, including those of women, children, and young men."
The Masalit tribe had been the majority in El Geneina until the RSF-led attacks forced their mass exodus, according to the report.
The monitors said the RSF takeover of most of Darfur relied on three lines of support, including Arab allied communities, dynamic and complex financial networks, and new military supply lines running through Chad, Libya, and South Sudan.
"Complex financial networks established by RSF before and during the war enabled it to acquire weapons, pay salaries, fund media campaigns, lobby, and buy the support of other political and armed groups," wrote the monitors, adding that the RSF used proceeds from its pre-war gold business to create a network of as many as 50 companies in several industries.
The monitors said after the power struggle between Burhan and his former deputy and RSF chief Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo started in April, "most of the gold which was previously exported to UAE, was now smuggled to Egypt."
In its place, the new increased firepower acquired by the RSF "had a massive impact on the balance of forces, both in Darfur and other regions of Sudan," the report pointed out.
"The whole world witnessed these rebel forces (RSF) committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in West Darfur and the rest of Sudan," Burhan told troops gathered in Port Sudan in a video released by his office on Friday.
He called Dagalo a "clown," "traitor," and "coward." He also firmly declined to accept the ceasefire agreement that Dagalo had signed in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, this week.
Burhan, during visits this week, criticized African nations such as South Africa, Ethiopia, and Kenya for considering Dagalo as a statesman. "He is humiliating the Sudanese people, he is killing them, insulting them, and some people are clapping for him and laughing with him."
Meanwhile, the United States claims that both the Army and the RSF have been committing war crimes.
International meditation attempts by Saudi Arabia and the US have been to no avail till now.
An attempt last month by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, an African trade bloc, which persuaded Burhan and Dagalo to agree to an in-person meeting, also failed.
Since the conflict started on April 15, more than 7.5 million individuals have been displaced, fleeing across the country and to neighboring states, while huge areas of Sudan have been ravaged.