The ICC prosecutor calls for evidence of atrocities in Sudan after rebels attacked a hospital in Darfur


THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor appealed Tuesday for information and evidence about atrocities in Sudan. He says his ongoing investigation “appears to reveal an organized, systematic and pervasive attack on human dignity.”

ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan has released a video statement in the aftermath of an incident attack on Sunday by the notorious paramilitary group Rapid Support Forces which forced the closure of a key hospital in the western region of Darfur. The group fired shots and looted the hospital in al-Fasher, aid group Doctors Without Borders reported.

The attack came as the RSF, which has been fighting the Sudanese army for a year, intensified its offensive in a bid to wrest control of the city, the army’s last stronghold in the vast Darfur region. There have been two weeks of fighting in and around al-Fasher in the past month more than 120 people killed.

“The terrible events in West Darfur, including El-Geneina, in 2023 are among our top research priorities,” Khan said. “In addition, I am extremely concerned at this time about allegations of widespread international crimes being committed in Al-Fasher and the surrounding areas.”

A long-term conflict

The Sudan conflict began in April last year when rising tensions between army leaders and the RSF culminated in fighting in the capital Khartoum and elsewhere in the country.

The war has killed more than 14,000 people and injured thousands more, while forcing the population to the brink of famine. The UN Food Agency warned the warring parties last month that there was a serious risk of spread hunger and death in Darfur and elsewhere in Sudan if they do not allow humanitarian aid into the region.

The war also caused the world’s largest displacement crisis more than 10 million people have been forced to flee their homesincluding more than 2 million people who have crossed into neighboring countries, the U.N. migration agency told the Associated Press on Monday.

Khan said he is conducting urgent investigations in Sudan.

“The evidence my office has collected to date appears to show credible, repeated, expanding, ongoing allegations of attacks on civilian populations, in particular attacks targeting internally displaced persons camps,” he said.

“It appears to demonstrate the widespread, pervasive use of rape and other forms of sexual violence. It appears to consistently expose the shelling of civilian areas, the looting of property and attacks on hospitals,” he added, stressing that he was “particularly concerned about the ethnically motivated nature of these attacks on the Masalit and other communities .”

The ICC already has an ongoing investigation in Sudan

The ICC has long been investigating atrocities in Sudan, dating back to an earlier devastating conflict in Darfur. The court has issued arrest warrants against former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on charges including genocide committed in Darfur between 2003 and 2008.

The RSF was created from this initiative Arab militiascommonly known as Janjaweed, mobilized by al-Bashir against non-Arab tribes Darfur. At the time, they were accused of mass murders, rapes and other atrocities, and Darfur became synonymous with genocide.

Khan referred back to the earlier conflict in his message on Tuesday.

“It is a shame that we are allowing history to repeat itself again in Darfur,” he said. “We cannot and must not allow Darfur to once again become the world’s forgotten atrocity.”

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