Escalating conflict and dire human rights situation of "grave concern" - Presidency

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

South Africa has expressed its “grave concern” over escalating armed conflict in Sudan, which has reportedly claimed thousands of lives, destroyed infrastructure and displaced millions of people.

Conflict in that country has been ongoing for more than a year.

“We express our grave concern at the outbreak of a major fighting in El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur and the plight faced by many civilians, especially women and children. The reported use of heavy artillery by the fighting parties in populated places continues to place the lives of civilians in danger.

“In this regard we wish to sight the warning by the Secretary-General of the UN, Mr Antonio Gutteres, during his recent address to the UN Security Council, that ‘intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population and wilfully impending humanitarian relief for civilians in need may constitute war crimes’.

“The attacks against El Fasher came amidst the Human Rights Watch Report which detailed cases of gross human rights abuses in Sudan, including ethnically motivated killings and gender-based violence,” the Presidency said in a statement.

South Africa urged those engaged in the conflict to “respect international law, including international humanitarian law, protect civilians, especially women and children, and not to hamper in any manner the distribution of humanitarian assistance as well as provision of medical support”.

“There is a need to urgently put an end to impunity in this senseless conflict. The dire human rights situation arising from the ongoing conflict cannot be ignored, nor can the role of relevant multilateral and regional bodies and initiatives.

“South Africa pledges its full support to the efforts of the UN Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy to Sudan, Mr Ramtane Lamamra, the African Union and Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to promote the peaceful end to the conflict through mediation and dialogue,” the statement said.

Furthermore, the statement repeated calls for a ceasefire in the area and for talks between the warring parties to resume.

“South Africa stands in solidarity with the innocent people of Sudan, who have been subjected to untold suffering since the outbreak of hostilities on 15 April 2023, with the main protagonists to the conflict being the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

“South Africa reiterates its call for the immediate end to the conflict and resumption of genuine and sincere talks to bring an end to the human suffering that the people of Sudan have endured for a long time,” the statement said. –