Update May 2022

From Atrocities Watch Monitor N° 4, May 2022
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The tense standoff between the post-coup government and pro-democracy forces continued through April. Overall levels of violence remained similar to earlier months according to ACLED reporting.

Factions aligned with the military proposed a deal to form a transitional government that would bypass pro-democracy groups it shared power with before the coup. The deal elevates the military as Sudan’s highest authority, it also includes the appointment of a technocratic cabinet and parliament to govern until elections expected next year.[1] Pro-democracy groups have continued to protest.

International mediators have attempted to facilitate a solution, but their efforts have faced opposition. After the UNITAMS statement to the UNSC at the end of March, tensions between Al-Burhan and the mission increased as Burhan publicly threatened to expel Volker Perthes, accusing him of “interfering in the country’s affairs and violating the powers of his mandate.”[2] The government has argued that UNITAMS should focus on the implementation of the Juba Peace Agreement. Despite this, the joint AU, UN and IGAD mediation continues.[3]

The government continued to use repressive tactics against protesters. 11 April marked the 3 year anniversary of Bashir’s ouster, protesters took to the streets saying, “Bashir’s downfall did not mean a final victory for the revolution, because Burhan is a continuation of his regime.”[4]At the end of April, Human Rights Watch released research showing that hundreds of protesters have been unlawfully detained and some have been subject to ill treatment and forcibly disappeared.[5] Although Al-Burhan pledged to release political detainees to enable them to participate in the dialogue,[6] only some (25 detained resistance committee leaders) were released on 24 April, leaving many others including FFC leaders and remain in detention.[7]

Violence continued in Darfur. Kreinik in West Darfur was attacked twice in three days, killing an estimated 200[8] The violence later reached El Geneina, capital of West Darfur, on 25 April.[9] Tens of thousands were displaced.[10] The violence shows the ineffectiveness of the Juba Peace Agreement, which was signed in 2020 and the majority of whose provisions have not been implemented. The latest violence shows not only how fraught ethnic relations remain in Darfur, but also the incapacity or unwillingness of state actors to respond.[11]

In addition, there has been intercommunal violence in Abyei, a disputed area between North and South Sudan. At least 29 people were killed and 30 were wounded.[12]

As elsewhere in the region, intercommunal violence is exacerbating a dire humanitarian situation. Harvests are expected to be under average, with displacement further reducing yields. The country normally only produces about 15% of the wheat it consumes, with 60% of stocks coming from Russia and Ukraine (and likely to be impacted by that conflict).[13] Severe economic shocks that have roiled Sudan in recent months are now being exacerbated by a severe drinking water crisis in several areas of Khartoum.[14] As elsewhere, economic and food crises can exacerbate the risk of mass atrocity.


Sudan has been the site of numerous atrocities. The north-south civil war raged from 1955- 2001 with a brief respite following the signing of the Addis Ababa agreement in 1972. An estimated four million were displaced.239 The war was characterised by brutal attacks on civilians and ethnically charged rhetoric. A Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was signed in 2001, eventually leading to the secession of South Sudan in 2011.

Shortly after the signing of the CPA, violence broke out in Darfur, with rebels taking up arms in response to the marginalisation of the region. Once again, ethnically charged rhetoric was deployed and groups associated with the rebels were subjected to massive human rights violations. Whole villages were razed, and women were systematically raped. A series of peace agreements signed in 2006, 2011 and 2020 have failed to end the violence.

[1] Reuters, “EXCLUSIVE- Draft Sudan deal seeks to cement military’s grip,” 6 April 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/exclusive-draft-sudan-deal-seeks-cement-militarys-grip-2022-04-06/

[2] Al Monitor, “Tensions escalate between Sudanese military, UN mission,” 18 April 2022, https://www.al-monitor.com/originals/2022/04/tensions-escalate-between-sudanese-military-un-mission#ixzz7R0ZsSo6A

[3] Sudan Tribune, “Burhan pledges to release Sudan’s FFC detainees within three days,” 16 April 2022, https://sudantribune.com/article257724/

[4] Reuters, “Sudanese protesters mark third anniversary of Bashir’s ouster with fresh protests,” 11 April 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/sudanese-protesters-mark-third-anniversary-bashirs-ouster-with-fresh-protests-2022-04-11/

[5] Human Rights Watch, “Sudan: Hundreds of Protesters Detained, Mistreated,” 28 April 2022, https://www.hrw.org/news/2022/04/28/sudan-hundreds-protesters-detained-mistreated

[6] Sudan Tribune, “Burhan pledges to release Sudan’s FFC detainees within three days,” 16 April 2022, https://sudantribune.com/article257724/

[7] Radio Dabanga, “Junta Releases 25 Detainees – Dozens Remain in Prison,” 24 April 2022, https://allafrica.com/stories/202204240191.html?utm_campaign=daily-headlines&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&utm_content=aans-view-link

[8] Michael Atit, “Over 200 Reported Killed in West Darfur Tribal Clashes,” Voice of America, 25 April 2022, https://allafrica.com/stories/202204260084.html?utm_campaign=daily-headlines&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&utm_content=aans-view-link

[9] Reuters, “West Darfur fighting spreads to capital city El Geneina – residents,” 25 April 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/west-darfur-fighting-spreads-capital-city-el-geneina-residents-2022-04-25/

[10] Norwegian Refugee Council, “Sudan: Tens of thousands flee after deadly attacks in West Darfur,” 25 April 2022, https://reliefweb.int/report/sudan/sudan-tens-thousands-flee-after-deadly-attacks-west-darfur

[11] Sudan Transparency and Policy Tracker, “What Happens in Darfur Doesn’t Stay in Darfur,” May 2022.

[12] UN News, “Security Council hears of ‘trust deficit’ in disputed Abyei region,” 21 April 2022, https://news.un.org/en/story/2022/04/1116602

[13] FEWSNET, “Sudan: Food Security Outlook Update,” April 2022, https://fews.net/east-africa/sudan/food-security-outlook-update/april-2022

[14] Radio Dabanga, “Sudan’s Drinking Water Crisis Continues,” 22 April 2022, ​​https://allafrica.com/stories/202204250098.html?utm_campaign=daily-headlines&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&utm_content=aans-view-link