UN 'deeply alarmed' at Sudan prison breaks, impunity

AFP , Friday 28 Apr 2023

The United Nations voiced alarm Friday at the prison breaks amid the violence raging in Sudan that have seen Sudanese war crimes suspects escape, and deepening impunity.

People gather on the street in east Khartoum on April 16, 2023, as fighting in Sudan raged for a second day in battles between rival generals. - Sudan s army and rival paramilitaries began an hours-long humanitarian pause on the second day of urban battles that killed at least 56 civilians and three UN staff. AFP


The UN also warned that the conflict was reigniting ethnic clashes in the western Darfur region which had left nearly 100 dead in a matter of days.

"We're very, very deeply alarmed by the prison breaks," UN rights office spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told reporters in Geneva.

"We're very worried about the prospect of further violence, amid a generalised climate of impunity," she said.

Her comments follow several jailbreaks, including of a high-security prison holding suspected war criminals, since violence erupted across Sudan two weeks ago.

Shamdasani said the UN was concerned the impunity symbolised by the jailbreaks "is at the root of a lot of what we are seeing today".

"When you see continued impunity for serious violations... it emboldens the perpetrators."

At least 512 people have been killed and 4,193 wounded in the two weeks of fighting between Sudan's army led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and the paramilitary RSF commanded by his deputy-turned-rival, Mohamed Hamdan Daglo.

The UN has not yet been able to verify the casualty numbers, given by Sudan's health ministry, but Shamdasani warned they "must be a serious underestimate".

"The human rights situation continues to dramatically deteriorate," she said.

Hundreds of thousands of people have fled their homes, with tens of thousands fleeing into neighbouring countries.

But Shamdasani warned that thousands remain trapped in residential areas where fighting has been taking place.

"People also continue to be forced from their homes by the RSF and suffer looting, extortion, acute shortages of food, water, electricity, fuel, limited access to healthcare, limited communication and limited cash due to the closure of banks," she said.

Shamdasani said the UN was "concerned at the serious risk of violence escalating in West Darfur", warning that the hostilities between the military and RSF "have triggered intercommunal violence".

"In El Geneina, West Darfur, deadly ethnic clashes have been reported, with an estimated 96 people killed since April 24," she said.

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