Web review

Web Review

L’Osservatorio monitors the web and other information sources daily to provide in-depth news on the impact of contemporary armed conflicts on civilians.

On Sunday 30 June, pro-democracy activists held the largest mass protest in Khartoum, Sudan since the 3 June paramilitary attacks.

30 June 2019

Tens of thousands of Sudanese pro-democracy activists took to the streets this past Sunday, 30 June to protest against the ruling Transitional Military Council (TMC). This demonstration was the largest protest since the military took power, despite the internet blackout and blocked bridge. 

The government said 11 people were killed and 181 were injured amid protests held on 30 June. AFP reported that paramilitary forces fired tear gas to clear the protesters near the presidential palace in three other Khartoum districts, Omdurman, and in the eastern town of Gadaref.

The most recent protest was planned after 3 June as a result of excessive force inflicted on protesters by the paramilitary, which resulted in over 100 deaths and rapes of more than 70 civilians. Additionally, Sudanese generals rejected Ethiopia’s proposal for establishing a transitional government in Sudan, argumenting that the proposal needed to be unified with the African Union’s (AU) previous plan. According to Reuters news agency, Ethiopia’s proposal focuses on creating a transitional government under the name of“a Sovereign Council,” comprising of seven civilians and seven military members, leaving  one more seat for an “impartial individual.” Talks between the TMC and the protesters failed after the 3 June attacks and have not resumed despite mediation efforts.

The demonstrations on Sunday marked the 30th anniversary of the coup that brought Sudan’s last president, Omar al-Bashir, to power in 1989. Sudan has been in turmoil since President al-Bashir was ousted by the military in April 2019. The military continues to blame the opposition for the violence and deaths. General Degalo (Hemeti) has warned the people against a “concealed agenda” that might come from the demonstrations.

However, a 23-year old protester, Zeinab, told the AFP, "we are here for the martyrs of the [June 3] sit-in. We want a civilian state that guarantees our freedom. We want to get rid of military dictatorship." 


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Author: Giulia DeLuca; Editor: Aleksandra Krol

Category: Sudan - Web Review
Monday, 08 July 2019

“Violence must stop”: UNICEF expresses concern about the continuous unrest and brutality inflicted on children in Sudan.

On 3 June, as a result of a military backlash against pro-democracy protesters,   several children were killed or injured.

Over the last months, the condition in Sudan has been gradually becoming unbearable for civilians.  Considering the gravity of the situation, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) Executive Director, Henrietta Fore, has expressed her concern with regard to  the foreseeable consequences of perpetual violence on children living in Sudan.

The tensions in the country began in April when the autocratic ruler, President Omar al-Bashir, has been overthrown by the military. Although  the ruling Transitional Military Council and protesters seemed to have reached some kind of consensus during peaceful talks in May, the situation aggravated on 3 June when security forces and paramilitaries opened fire on pro-democracy protesters in the capital city of Khartoum.  As a result, at least 19 children have been killed and another 49 have been injured. This circumstance is a cause for considerable concern, as expressed by Fore. Moreover, schools, hospitals and health centers were destroyed. According to information gathered by UNICEF, children living in Sudan are being detained, sexually abused, or recruited to serve as militants. The situation in Sudan is further deteriorating due to a shortage of food, water and available medicine which is critical for children's health.

Following recent unrests, UNICEF will continue to offer assistance to children in Sudan and committed itself  to provide vaccines, water and treatment for malnutrition and psychosocial support for millions of children, as underlined by its Executive Director. In addition, in her statement, Fore urged all  parties involved in the conflict to establish a peaceful dialogue as well as to protect children and their fundamental rights. In her plea, she also asked the Sudanese authorities to allow humanitarian organizations to carry on their activities in Sudan.


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Author: Giulia Francescon; Editor: Aleksandra Krol

Category: Sudan - Web Review
Tuesday, 25 June 2019

11 June 2019

Sudanese doctors describe dozens of rapes, killings, and injuries carried out during an attack on the protest camp in the capital city.

On the third of June, Sudanese paramilitaries were reported to have raped more than 70 people while conducting an attack on a pro-democracy protest camp in the capital city of Khartoum. As the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitaries clashed with protesters, the RSF used excessive force on civilians, causing an estimated number of 100 deaths and 700 injuries. In the aftermath, dozens of bodies have been found in the Nile River.

Although the extent of sexual violence remains unknown due to communication restrictions in Sudan, several rape cases have been reported despite the cut off the internet connection in Khartoum. Namely, a doctor at Royal Care hospital described treating eight victims of rape: five women and three men, whereas another hospital reported receiving two rape cases including a single victim raped by four paramilitaries. Many witnesses on social media reported similar cases, showing videos of paramilitaries charging, shooting, and beating unarmed civilians. 

Paramilitaries invaded a hospital close to the protest site and assaulted at least one civilian, with most assaults having occurred in the streets as the RSF was chasing protesters during the week-long sit-in. Due to the unstable situation in the capital, limited medical assistance and the fear of government reprisals, a multitude of victims remain untreated. 

Shops remain closed and streets are deserted. Even though the military leaders ordered the deferral of religious celebrations marking the festival of Eid, thousands of protesters defied the order and proceeded to put up roadblocks in the streets.

The military, who has been in power since April 2019 after ousting the previous president Omar al-Bashir, has refused to acknowledge the protesters’ demands and blamed the coalition of pro-democracy groups, Declaration of Freedom and Change Forces (DFCF), for the unrest. Lt Gen Jamaleddine Omar, from the Military Council, has accused protesters of committing a crime by blocking the streets as it prevents people from carrying on in their daily routines.

The UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, has criticised the use of brutal force towards the protesters and demanded an independent investigation to be conducted. Simultaneously, the African Union (AU) has suspended Sudan in its capacity as a member until a civilian-led transitional authority is created. Meanwhile, the DFCF plans to continue campaigning for a change until a democratic system is established in Sudan.


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Author: Giulia DeLuca; Editor: Aleksandra Krol

Category: Sudan - Web Review
Tuesday, 25 June 2019

7 November 2018

This is a presentation of “Violations and Abuses Against Civilians in Gbudue and Tambura States (Western Equatoria) April-August 2018”, released by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan on 18 October 2018.

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) jointly published a report detailing the abuse of civilians in Western Equatoria, South Sudan occurring between April through August 2018. This report was investigated by the UNMISS Human Rights Division (HRD) through increased surveillance by UNMISS human rights officers in the region and interviews conducted with 104 witnesses from 28 villages. The report was carried out in order to call attention to the human rights abuses occurring in this area, as well as to serve as a way to call for the groups involved to comply with international law.

Western Equatoria is located in western South Sudan, bordering both the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Since 2015, conflict has plagued this region. Initially, fighting mostly occurred between the Government-backed Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and local armed defence groups. In 2016, the pro-Machar Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition, or SPLA-IO (RM), fled to Western Equatoria, increasing fighting in the area. Although the SPLA-IO (RM) remained dormant in the area between mid-2017 and early 2018, commanders returned to the area in March 2018 with new military tactics, leading to intensified attacks against civilians. The SPLA has responded to the reemergence of the SPLA-IO (RM) in Western Equatoria through aggressive offensives.

From their investigation, UNMISS HRD established that the SPLA-IO (RM) carried out attacks either in an organized way or randomly. Organized attacks targeted specific villages or roads, while random attacks were opportunistic strikes against civilians by roaming SPLA-IO (RM) militants and groups. Over 887 villagers were abducted throughout these attacks.

Victim and witness accounts suggest that the SPLA-IO (RM) forced some abducted civilians into joining their forces. Reportedly, even children abductees, including boys under the age of 15 and girls over the age of 15, were provided basic military training. Enlistment was impossible to get out of unless civilians escaped captivity during training or fighting.

In addition to forced enlistment, SPLA-IO (RM) commanders and fighters sexually assaulted women and girls as a form of power. During attacks, UNMISS HRD reported 43 cases of rape or gang rape. The report details accounts of individual survivors, including one with a 15-year-old stating that, “I was very exhausted and in extreme pain and fainted after I was raped... When I regained consciousness, with difficulty, I forced myself up because my captors told me ‘the next time you will pretend fainting, we will rape you again.’”

The report’s scope also focused on villagers who were not abducted. The SPLA-IO (RM) violently abused civilians by beating them with machetes, gun butts, wooden sticks, and whips and looted civilian properties. The terror instilled in villages from these attacks forced civilians to flee their homes. SPLA-IO (RM) attacks also targeted humanitarian actors. For example, in May 2018, 10 humanitarian workers were held captive for four days.

In addition to the detailing of abuses by SPLA-IO (RM), the report also documented violations of international human rights and humanitarian law by SPLA. These incidents are grouped into the unlawful killing of civilians, unlawful destruction of properties, and forced displacements. On 20 May 2018, during a counter-offensive operation in Nagero led by the SPLA, at least 14 civilians were killed. Allegedly, three of these civilians were physically unable to flee the village and were burnt alive in their homes by SPLA elements. In the same operation, civilians reported that SPLA forces were responsible for unlawfully looting and burning their properties, as well as ransacking eight health facilities and five schools. Thousands of civilians were displaced from Nagero and surrounding areas to Tambura as a result of the operation. Later, the Governor of Tambura accused internally displaced persons (IDPs) of supporting SPLA-IO (RM) and moved them to a desolate location. The Governor then briefly blocked humanitarian aid from being delivered to that location.

In light of these findings, UNMISS and OHCHR insisted that all parties involved in the conflict “must abide by international human rights law and international humanitarian law.” They also urged the SPLA-IO (RM) to release all abducted civilians. Similarly, they called upon the Government of South Sudan to conduct an investigation into the allegations of international law violations and to provide assistance and protection for all victims, including adequate and full reparation.


Original report available here: https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Countries/SS/ReportWesternEquatoria17Oct2018.pdf

Category: Sudan - Web Review
Tuesday, 27 November 2018