The United Nations’ top human rights body adopted a resolution Thursday that drew attention to the rise in civilian deaths and rights abuses in Sudan since a bloody conflict erupted between the African country’s two top generals last month.
Violence in Sudan has killed more than 600 people, including civilians, and displaced hundreds of thousands. The fighting also spread to other regions, such as the rebel province of Darfur.
The Human Rights Council – made up of 47 UN member states – narrowly approved the resolution, with 18 states voting in favor of the resolution, 15 against and 14 other nations abstaining. The resolution aims to take a closer look at the human rights violations that have taken place in Sudan since April 15.
DOZENS OF ZOO ANIMALS IN SUDAN ARE AFRAID OF DEAD AS STREET BATTLES MAKE THE CAPITOL INACCESSIBLE
The fighting in Sudan began as a result of a power struggle between the head of the Sudan Armed Forces, General Abdel Fattah Burhan, and rival General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, who commands the powerful paramilitary Rapid Support Forces.
Arab and African nations – including Sudan – figure heavily among the 15 countries that rejected the UN measure, citing it as a potential barrier to ongoing peace talks.
Algerian representative Faouzia Boumaiza-Mebarki said the resolution could send a negative message to “opposing sides” and jeopardize ongoing talks between the military and the RSF in Saudi Arabia. Likewise, China’s ambassador said that the country and its warring parties must be “free from external pressure”.
Meanwhile, most Western countries voted in favor, with Europe and the United States co-sponsoring the draft resolution.
During the opening speech of the session, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Turk, accused both forces of violating international humanitarian law.
Turk blamed the Sudanese military for launching attacks in densely populated areas and the RSF for taking over “various buildings” in the capital Khartoum to use as “bases of operation, evicting residents and launching attacks”.
The UN raised concerns about the plight of civilians caught in the crossfire and concerns over food security and aid delivery, and called for support for neighboring countries hosting people fleeing the ongoing violence.
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“We also received several reports alleging sexual violence by men in uniform, as well as allegations of unlawful killings and enforced disappearances,” Turk said.
Echoing Turk’s remarks, US Ambassador to the UN Human Rights Council Michèle Taylor condemned the attack on hospitals and health workers. Amidst the fighting, several hospitals in Khartoum were damaged and forced to close.
Separately, dozens of independent experts working with the UN human rights office issued a joint statement on Thursday, citing reports that “civilians of all ages are suffering various human rights abuses” in Sudan, including sexual assault, gender-based violence, looting and shortages of food, water and health.