Populations at Risk Serious Concern


Populations in Sudan face a risk of mass atrocity crimes due to violence against civilians committed by the security forces, affiliated militias and armed rebel groups.
On 19 December demonstrations erupted in the northern town of Atbara regarding the removal of bread subsidies, fuel and cash shortages, and high inflation in Sudan. Protests were initially organized by teachers, students, lawyers and doctors, but have spread across the country and involve a broad cross-section of Sudanese society. In response, the security forces have used excessive force against protesters. Approximately 50 people have been killed and thousands arrested.

In an attempt to curb the protests, on 22 February President Omar al-Bashir declared a state of emergency. The emergency measures include a ban on demonstrations, the establishment of emergency courts, the dissolution of central and state governments, and the appointment of military officers to government positions. President Bashir also announced the delegation of his powers as leader of the National Congress Party to Ahmad Harun, the former governor of South Kordofan.

Recurring armed conflict also poses a threat to civilians in South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur. Between 2011-2016 the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and armed rebels from the Sudan People's Liberation Army-North (SPLA-N) engaged in armed hostilities in South Kordofan and Blue Nile. the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimated that between 90,000-545,000 IDPs were spread across the two states, while nearly 690,000 people fled to neighboring countries. Meanwhile, in Darfur clashes between the government and the Sudan Liberation Army-Abdul Wahid (SLA-AW) in the Jebel Marra area have resulted in rising levels of sexual and gender-based violence as well as villages being burnt down.

During 2016 the Sudanese government and some armed groups signed the African Union (AU) High Level Implementation Panel's Roadmap agreement aimed at ending the conflicts in South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur, but failed to agree on a permanent cessation of hostilities.

The government also continues to obstruct the AU-UN hybrid peacekeeping force in Darfur (UNAMID) from carrying out human rights monitoring. Since 2008 more than 70 UNAMID peacekeepers have been killed by armed groups.

The state of emergency and the return to military rule endanger the human rights of all populations in Sudan.

Despite the current ceasefires in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, the Sudanese government and SPLA-N have a history of perpetrating acts that may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. The government and SPLA-N have consistently defied external pressure to hold perpetrators accountable. While the overall level of violence in Darfur has decreased since 2016, several areas, especially Jebel Marra, still require a robust peacekeeping presence.

International pressure is necessary to ensure that the government of Sudan upholds its Responsibility to Protect and is held accountable for past atrocity crimes.

The UN Security Council (UNSC) has adopted at least 58 resolutions on Sudan since 2004, most of which have not been fully implemented. On 29 June the UNSC adopted Resolution 2429, which extended UNAMID's mandate until 30 June 2019 and mandated the continuation of a phased reduction of UNAMID.

Following a UNSC referral, between 2007-2014 the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued arrest warrants for three Sudanese government officials, including multiple warrants for President Omar al-Bashir and Ahmad Harun, and two anti-government militia leaders, for atrocities perpetrated in Darfur, including war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. All suspects remain at large.

The UNSC has imposed an arms embargo on Darfur since 2004 and travel ban and asset freeze against six individuals since 2006. During October 2017 the United States lifted sanctions against Sudan.

The government of Sudan must end the use of disproportionate and deadly force against unarmed protesters. It should also immediately release all individuals detained for peacefully demonstrating.

All signatories to the AUHIP Roadmap should fully implement the agreement and permanently end armed hostilities in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile. Following the reconfiguration of UNAMID, the UNSC must closely monitor the precarious security situation in Darfur.

The UNSC should also actively support efforts to bring ICC indictees to justice. States parties to the Rome Statute of the ICC should deny President Bashir entry to their country or should comply with ICC warrants and arrest him.

Last Updated: 15 March 2019

The most recent issues of R2P Monitor and Atrocity Alert are available in the side-bar. To see previous assessments of this country, please see R2P Monitor and Atrocity Alert on our Publications page. Sudan was previously featured in the R2P Monitor from January 2012 through January 2018.