The civil war in Sudan has now surpassed 100 days in duration. If you missed this milestone, it is no surprise. The violence occurring in Ukraine is abominable, but the disproportionate attention given to that war in Eastern Europe compared to the atrocities in Sudan suggests the Western world cannot simultaneously accommodate two violent conflicts in its attention span. Perhaps they simply don’t want to look at what is happening in this troubled African section.
The civil war began on April 15, when a joint military government split between General Hamdan and General Burhan finally collapsed beyond repair, and the forces loyal to each respective general began fighting one another. Burhan leads the official Sudanese military. Hamdan heads up the paramilitary forces known as the Rapid Support Forces (RSF).
While the atrocities in this current outburst of violence in Sudan remain widespread, the Darfur region is witnessing a concentrated level of horror. Less than two weeks ago, Egypt discovered a mass grave with 87 bodies in Sudan’s West Darfur state. The United Nations said they have credible information to support the belief that the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) were responsible for these deaths. If true (and there is little reason to believe it is not true), that means the conflict has already descended into the feared ethnic conflict paradigm that many warned about when the civil war began.
Beginning in 2003, the forerunner of the RSF, then called the Janjaweed militias, carried out ethnic cleansing in this same region, killing more than 300,000 people. Violence in Darfur is historically linked to land and water disputes between Arab and non-Arab people groups. The former president of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir, leveraged these conflicts for his own power interests and helped intensify the violence in the 2003 conflict.
Last month, after giving a television interview in which he accused the RSF of carrying out genocide, a local governor of West Darfur, Khamis Abakar, was kidnapped and executed.
In the current fighting, the RSF and associated Arab militias have also faced accusations of targeting human rights activists. Homes and villages have been looted. The RSF has taken control of vast swaths of territory, including West Darfur.
In the first 100 days of fighting in Sudan, more than 3 million people have been internally displaced, and approximately 730,000 Sudanese have fled the country. One organization says as many as 11,000 have beenkilled and buried in mass graves or their bodies thrown into the river in Darfur.
Read More: Sudan On the Brink