The world looks the other way as tens of thousands of Sudanese die in genocidal war

The Gaza conflict is dominating headlines, sparking protests on university campuses across the United States and Europe. Meanwhile, a massive humanitarian crisis is resurfacing in Sudan, particularly in Darfur, yet it seems to be largely ignored by the world.

The same Arab militias responsible for the genocide in the 2000s have resurfaced, perpetrating similar atrocities once again. Reports indicate mass murder, torture, rape, and mutilation targeting non-Arab ethnic groups, alongside the destruction of entire villages. Their apparent objective seems to be the forced displacement of non-Arab tribes from the region.

Civilians, primarily boys and men, are being massacred, while women are being raped. There are even reports of women being sold into sexual slavery at slave markets. It appears that another genocide is underway, marking the third in just a few decades.

Immense toll

So far, the figures are overwhelming: 25 million people in need of aid, 28 million Sudanese are facing hunger, 18 million are facing severe hunger, and 5 million are at emergency levels. Additionally, 19 million children are out of school, 8.6 million people are displaced, and almost 2 million are living as refugees in foreign countries.

The neighbouring countries absorbing the refugees are also poor and ill-equipped to care for them. For example, Chad, one of the poorest countries in the world, has received 60,000 Sudanese refugees just in the past year.

Human Rights Watch reports that thousands have been killed. Pinpointing the exact number of casualties proves challenging due to the constantly evolving situation on the ground. Additionally, international aid organisations prioritise assessing and aiding the living population, further complicating casualty assessments.

However, the US Special Envoy for Sudan, Tom Perriello, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at the beginning of May that the number of deaths is catastrophic:

“We literally don’t know how many people have died, possibly to a factor of 10 or 15. The number was mentioned earlier 15 to 30,000. Some think it’s at 150,000. We are now supporting a couple of efforts to use methodologies to document and get to that so we at least know what kind of consequences we’re looking at here.”

Prolonged conflict

The ongoing crisis is a continuation of the Darfur conflict, which garnered international media coverage in the early 2000s. During that period, Darfur, located in western Sudan, witnessed extensive violence, civilian displacement, and accusations of genocide.

The conflict primarily involved the Sudanese government and government-backed militias, predominantly of Arab ethnicity, clashing with rebel factions, mainly comprising members of the Fur, Zaghawa, and Massalit ethnic groups, who are of black sub-Saharan African descent.


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In 2003, the conflict intensified as rebel factions launched attacks on government installations, accusing the government of neglect and marginalisation of the region's populace. In retaliation, the Sudanese government, led by President Omar al-Bashir, initiated a harsh counter-insurgency operation, employing militias referred to as the Janjaweed.

These militias were accused of perpetrating atrocities against civilians, including murder, rape, and looting, targeting ethnic communities perceived to be sympathetic to the rebel cause.

President Omar al-Bashir was ousted from power in 2019 after months of widespread protests against his regime. By then, an estimated 300,000 people had been killed, and 2.7 million had been displaced.

Subsequently, the Janjaweed militias underwent a transformation, rebranding themselves as the Rapid Support Force (RSF). Under the leadership of General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, also known as Hemeti, the RSF emerged as a significant player in the transitional government that succeeded al-Bashir's regime.

The RSF has ties to the Wagner Group, a notorious Russian private military company (PMC) designated as a terrorist organisation by the US and other nations due to its history of human rights violations. In exchange for access to gold mines, Wagner provided the RSF with training, weapons, and support

Genocide and war crimes

Last year, fighting erupted between the Sudanese national army and the Rapid Support Force (RSF). The two factions clashed over control of the country as well as natural resources. Both armies are Arab-dominated, but the conflict resulted in the deaths of large numbers of non-Arab civilians as collateral damage.

The governor of West Darfur, who was non-Arab, lodged a protest with the government in Khartoum against what he called the genocide of local people. Shortly afterward, he was captured by the RSF, tortured, and executed. Subsequently, videos circulated on social media depicting his corpse being mutilated.

The humanitarian situation in greater Sudan is at crisis levels, and Darfur is even worse. Sudan was already home to 1 million refugees, including those fleeing the fighting in Ethiopia’s Tigray region. The existing refugees have already depleted the country’s resources and stretched international aid to its limits.

The system is already broken, while preparing for additional displaced, wounded, and starving people. As many as three-quarters of healthcare facilities have been destroyed; those injured in the conflict or suffering unrelated medical emergencies may die because they are unable to receive treatment.

In Darfur, Human Rights Watch reports that thousands have been killed, while half a million have been displaced. For the last several days, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and allied militias have been just outside of El Fasher, in Darfur, poised to massacre the city’s 800,000 inhabitants.

Fighting has already broken out in the north and east of Fasher, resulting in large numbers of casualties and displacements. The city had been a regional aid hub, but now that it is under siege, the distribution of aid is threatened. Already, more than 36,000 people have been displaced from the area in and around El Fasher.

Another city in West Darfur, El Geneina, witnessed 15,000 deaths last year. Human Rights Watch reported that the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and allied Arab militias are guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity. They are being accused of committing ethnic cleansing targeting the Massalit people and other non-Arab communities, with the apparent objective of permanently removing them from the city.

As staggering as the number of displaced, starving, and killed may be, as fighting intensifies, the numbers are expected to surge, putting a strain on humanitarian aid across the country. The UN has imposed sanctions on the RSF and other actors in the crisis, while also passing a resolution calling for a ceasefire. Neither of these bureaucratic exercises will save lives or put a stop to the massacres, however. One step the world community could take would be to impose an arms embargo on the country and halt the planes that are resupplying the army.

Share this article via the various social media buttons to raise awareness of the humanitarian crisis in Sudan.

Antonio Graceffo, PhD, China-MBA MBA, is a China economic analyst teaching economics at the American University in Mongolia. He has spent 20 years in Asia and is the author of six books about China. His writing has appeared in The Diplomat, South China Morning Post, Jamestown Foundation China Brief, Penthouse, Shanghai Institute of American Studies, Epoch Times, War on the Rocks, Just the News, and Black Belt Magazine.

Image credit: Médecins Sans Frontières


Showing 8 reactions

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  • Michael Cook
    followed this page 2024-05-25 11:02:44 +1000
  • David Page
    commented 2024-05-24 09:52:04 +1000
    Steven, America has intervened in Haiti in the past. To no avail. It is a broken society in a denuded landscape. The environment is so damaged that the climate has changed. Perhaps a long term UN intervention would help. Very long term.
  • Steven Meyer
    commented 2024-05-23 12:07:03 +1000
    So what would Antonio Graceffo suggest the rest of the world does about Sudan apart from supplying food?

    As David Page says, there doesn’t seem much that can be done.

    mrscracker, Haiti is on America’s doorstep. What do you suggest your country does?

    I think if I were the president of Haiti – thankfully there’s no danger of that – I’d start a rumour that I was considering inviting China to set up a navel base at Port au Prince. That should get attention.

    If I could avoid a CIA-organised coup it might actually work to improve the lot of Haitians. Of course I’d more likely suffer the fate of Salvador Allende. But even a Pinochet-like successor could be an improvement on the current situation.
  • mrscracker
    Poor Haiti receives little attention either.
    If the Sudan or Haiti were valuable to interests like Iran or the West , I’m sure we’d be seeing more attention paid. Instead we get manipulated.
  • Israel Kalman
    commented 2024-05-21 23:21:28 +1000
    If we wish for the world to get up in arms about what is happening in Sudan, it needs to be announced that the genocide is being committed by my fellow Jews.

    Forgive me for my cynicism, but it’s just the way things are.
  • Israel Kalman
    followed this page 2024-05-21 23:19:12 +1000
  • David Page
    commented 2024-05-20 09:58:36 +1000
    You can’t save a people who are unprepared for democracy. You can help with food and medicine. Maybe you can kill some bad folks for them. But is the people aren’t ready for democracy, you can’t save them.
  • Antonio Graceffo
    published this page in The Latest 2024-05-20 09:16:22 +1000