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UN chief says attacks against civilians in Sudan could amount to 'war crimes, crimes against humanity'

The photo shows a popular market in Omdurman, Sudan. The market, which used to be crowded with customers and full of commodities, was targeted in the deadly conflict between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres says indiscriminate attacks against civilians in Sudan could amount to "war crimes and crimes against humanity," as the conflict between the Sudanese army and a rival paramilitary force has entered its second year.

"Indiscriminate attacks that are killing, injuring and terrorizing civilians could amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity," Guterres told reporters on Monday, while decrying the use of sexual violence against women and girls, and attacks on aid convoys.

The paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) has been fighting the army, led by Gen. Abdel Fattah Burhan, for control of the North African country since April 15 last year in a war that has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced nearly eight million amid warnings of famine.

The UN chief also reiterated his concerns about reports of escalating violence in El-Fasher, the last state capital not under RSF control in the western region of Darfur.

"Over the weekend, RSF-affiliated militias attacked and burnt villages west of the city -- leading to widespread new displacement" and fears that the city's only water source could be overtaken, Guterres said, adding, "Fighting continued today on the outskirts of El-Fasher."

"Let me be clear:  Any attack on El-Fasher would be devastating for civilians and could lead to full-blown intercommunal conflict across Darfur," Guterres emphasized.

He warned that such an attack on the major regional hub for humanitarian aid would also upend aid operations in an area "already on the brink of famine."

That comes as the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has warned that at least 37 percent of Sudan’s 49 million population are facing high levels of acute food insecurity.

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