ICC Prosecutor seeks evidence of Sudan atrocities after Darfur hospital attack

icc prosecutor seeks evidence of sudan atrocities after darfur hospital attack

FILE - Sudanese soldiers from the Rapid Support Forces unit, led by Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo,

The International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor appealed Tuesday for information and evidence of atrocities in Sudan, saying his ongoing investigation “seems to disclose an organized, systematic and a profound attack on human dignity.”

ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan released a video statement in the aftermath of an attack Sunday by the notorious Rapid Support Forces paramilitary group that forced the closure of a main hospital in the western Darfur region. The group fired shots and looted the hospital in al-Fasher, aid group Doctors Without Borders reported.

The attack came as the RSF, which has been fighting the Sudanese army for a year, intensified its offensive seeking to wrest control of the city, the military’s last stronghold in the sprawling Darfur region. Two weeks of fighting last month in and around al-Fasher has killed more than 120 people.

“The terrible events in West Darfur, including El-Geneina, in 2023 are among our key investigative priorities,” Khan said. “In addition, I am extremely concerned about allegations of widespread international crimes being committed in al-Fasher and its surrounding areas as I speak.”

A long-running conflict

Sudan’s conflict began in April last year when soaring tensions between the leaders of the military and the RSF erupted into fighting in the capital, Khartoum, and elsewhere in the country.

The war has killed more than 14,000 people and wounded thousands more while pushing its population to the brink of famine. The U.N. food agency warned the warring parties last month that there is a serious risk of widespread starvation and death in Darfur and elsewhere in Sudan if they don’t allow humanitarian aid into the region.

The war also created the world’s largest displacement crisis as more than 10 million people have been forced to flee their homes, including over 2 million people who crossed into neighbouring countries, the U.N. migration agency told The Associated Press Monday.

Khan said he is urgently investigating in Sudan.

“The evidence my office has collected to date seems to show credible, repeated, expanding, continuous allegations of attacks against the civilian population, in particular, attacks directed against camps for internally displaced persons,” he said.

“It seems to show the widespread, prevalent use of rape and other forms of sexual violence. It seems to disclose consistently the shelling of civilian areas, the looting of properties and attacks against hospitals,” he added, stressing that he was “particularly concerned by the ethnically motivated nature of these attacks against the Masalit and other communities.”

The ICC already has an ongoing investigation in Sudan

The ICC has long been investigating atrocities in Sudan, dating back to a previous devastating conflict in Darfur. The court has issued arrest warrants for former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on charges including genocide allegedly committed in Darfur between 2003-2008.

The RSF was born out of Arab militias, commonly known as Janjaweed, mobilized by al-Bashir against non-Arab tribes in Darfur. At the time, they were accused of mass killings, rapes and other atrocities, and Darfur became synonymous with genocide.

Khan referred back to the previous conflict in his message on Tuesday.

“It is an outrage that we are allowing history to repeat itself once again in Darfur,” he said. “We cannot and we must not allow Darfur to become the world’s forgotten atrocity, once again.”

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