GENEVA (23 May 2023) - The UN expert on human rights in Sudan on Tuesday described the level of civilian suffering from the ongoing fighting as dehumanizing.
“This is the destruction of a country in a way that is dehumanizing its people,” said Radhouane Nouicer, who was appointed late last year by the High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk upon request of the UN Human Rights Council to document and report human rights violations committed in Sudan since the 25 October 2021 coup. “What is going on is as bad as anything I have seen in conflict zones over the course of my long career. It is horrifying, tragic, brutal, and completely unnecessary. The full array of human rights - economic, social and cultural as much as civil and political - are being violated, and both parties have singularly failed to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law.”
The expert, whose mandate was recently enhanced by the UN Human Rights Council during a special session to cover violations arising directly from the current conflict, has over the last three weeks held weekly meetings remotely with civil society representatives still in Sudan and others who have fled to neighbouring countries.
He has heard heart-rending accounts of doctors going hungry in hospitals as they try to treat patients, without appropriate medication or even fuel to power medical equipment, displacement of civilians, looting of homes by fighters, family members becoming separated, people shot while trying to flee, and chaos at the borders. He has also been informed of increasing allegations of rape and other forms of sexual violence by men in uniform and of bodies left in the streets for days, with relatives afraid of being shot should they try to collect them.
“People feel alone and abandoned amid a chronic shortage of food, drinking water, homes destroyed, indiscriminate attacks in residential areas and widespread looting; the whole country is taken hostage,” said Nouicer.
More than 850 civilians have been killed, over 3,500 injured, and hundreds of thousands displaced in the five weeks since the fighting began.
He reminded the parties of their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law to protect civilians from the effects of hostilities and noted that they have so far utterly failed in this regard. He underlined the importance of ending impunity and ensuring accountability for human rights violations. He appealed to the parties to respect and uphold the ceasefire agreed on 20 May, in an effective and meaningful way, facilitate delivery of humanitarian aid and fully abide by international humanitarian law and international human rights law.
Mr. Nouicer was designated UN expert on Human Rights in Sudan by Türk in December 2022 pursuant to UN Human Rights Council resolution S-32/1.