Warring parties in Sudan must do more to protect civilians caught up in the conflict, the UN human rights office, OHCHR, said on Friday, in response to recent deadly attacks and ongoing violations.
“We are concerned by the continued devastating impact of the fighting in Sudan on civilians,” Spokesperson Jeremy Laurence told journalists in Geneva.
The Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and military rival, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), have been locked in vicious clashes since mid-April.
Hundreds have been killed and some 1.2 million have been displaced. UN agencies and partners have repeatedly warned of the growing humanitarian crisis.
Deadly airstrikes in Khartoum
Laurence said at least eight people died in an air strike on a busy livestock market in the capital, Khartoum, on Wednesday, allegedly carried out by the SAF. At least three of the victims were from the same family.
A child was reportedly killed in a separate incident that day after a shell struck his home in the Al-Shajraa district, in southern Khartoum.
Refugee and orphan deaths
OHCHR has also received reports of the killings of four other civilians in the capital on Monday, while at least three people from the same family, including a pregnant woman, were reportedly killed on Sunday.
Airstrikes that day near the Sport Complex in southern Khartoum, hit a refugee centre, reportedly killing at least 10 refugees.
Furthermore, no fewer than 71 children have died at an orphanage in Khartoum since the fighting started due to lack of humanitarian assistance, including medical supplies.
Sexual violence, online hate
Laurence said OHCHR is also concerned by reports of conflict-related sexual violence.
“Since the fighting began, our Office has received credible reports of 12 incidents of sexual violence related to the conflict, against at least 37 women although the number could be higher. In at least three incidents, the victims were young girls. In one case, 18 to 20 women were reportedly raped,” he said.
Growing reports of apparent enforced disappearance and arbitrary detention are another concern, he added, and journalists are also now at greater risk amid a rise in online hate speech and disinformation.
OHCHR has learnt of a list circulating on social media accusing certain journalists of being RSF supporters. Staff have also seen comments on Facebook calling for the killing of those on the list.
Appeal for accountability
“We reiterate the High Commissioner’s call on both parties to the fighting to ensure protection of civilians and respect for international humanitarian law and international human rights law,” he said.
“They must also ensure all violations are effectively and independently investigated and those responsible are held accountable.”