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UN calls for immediate halt to 'wanton killings' in Sudan's Darfur

People walk among scattered objects in the market of El Geneina, the capital of West Darfur, on April 29, 2023. (Photo by AFP)

The United Nations has called for immediate action to stop "wanton killings" of people fleeing the Darfur region of western Sudan, saying thousands of bodies remain unburied in the streets and inside homes in the war-torn region. 

UN rights office spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said in a statement on Saturday that people fleeing El Geneina, the capital of West Darfur state, “must be guaranteed safe passage and humanitarian agencies allowed to access to the area to collect the remains of those killed.” 

“We are gravely concerned that such wanton killings are ongoing and urge immediate action to halt them," she said.

Darfur, a vast western region on the border with Chad, has seen the deadliest violence since the fighting between the Sudanese army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) spread to the region earlier this month. 

The UN has spoken of possible "crimes against humanity" in Darfur, warning that the conflict has taken an "ethnic dimension” in the region.

El Geneina, the UN rights office said, had become "uninhabitable," and that essential infrastructure had been destroyed and movement of aid to the city remained blocked.

It called on the RSF leadership to "immediately, unequivocally condemn and stop the killing of people fleeing El Geneina.

The Geneva-based UN rights office said people who escaped to Chad had given "horrifying accounts of armed 'Arab' militia backed by the Rapid Support Forces killing people fleeing El Geneina on foot."

"All those interviewed also spoke of seeing dead bodies scattered along the road -– and the stench of decomposition," it said.

"Several people spoke of seeing dozens of bodies in an area referred to as Shukri" about 10 kilometers from Sudan's border with Chad.

According to the UN rights office, all but two of the 16 people it interviewed testified that they had witnessed "summary executions" and the targeting of civilians on the road from El Geneina to the border between June 15 and 16.

The US State Department said last week, up to 1,100 have been killed in El Geneina alone.

At least 3,000 people have been killed across Sudan since conflict broke out in mid-April, the country’s Minister of Health Haitham Ibrahim said on Saturday.

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