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Statements Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Comment by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk on attacks on civilians in Wad Madani, Sudan

20 December 2023

People displaced by the conflict in Sudan get on top of the back of a truck moving along a road in Wad Madani, the capital of al-Jazirah state, on December 16, 2023. Fighting between the Sudanese army and paramilitaries engulfed the aid hub of Wad Madani on December 15, triggering an exodus of civilians already displaced by eight months of war, an AFP correspondent reported. © AFP



I am very alarmed by recurring reports of widespread abuses and violations of human rights in recent days amid fighting between the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in Wad Madani, Sudan’s second-largest city. The unfolding humanitarian situation in the wider Al-Jezira State, which hosts nearly half a million internally displaced people, is also dire.

Reports indicate that dozens of civilians including medical personnel were killed and many more injured in Wadi Madani between 15 and 19 December. Some of the attacks were allegedly ethnically motivated. There have also been reports of mutilations and looting, as well as of an attack on a hospital. Dozens of people have reportedly been detained by both parties, including some on the basis of their ethnic and tribal affiliations. At least 250,000 people have been displaced.

Once again, I call on the SAF and the RSF to respect international humanitarian and human rights law. Both parties to the ongoing conflict must protect civilians and civilian objects. Attacks targeting civilians, including specifically protected persons like medical personnel, as well as civilian objects, including hospitals, are prohibited. They must also protect humanitarian workers and human rights defenders, whose work is especially important in critical circumstances such as these, and ensure civilians have necessary access to much-needed humanitarian assistance.