June 22, 2024

CAIRO (AP) — The United Nations’ top human rights body voted Wednesday to establish a face-finding mission to probe allegations of abuses in Sudan’s monthslong war.

Sudan was engulfed in chaos in mid-April, when simmering tensions between the military and a powerful paramilitary group exploded into open warfare in the capital, Khartoum, and other areas across the east African nation.

The U.N. Human Rights Council narrowly adapted the resolution, with 19 out of the council’s 47 members voting in favor of establishing the mission. Sixteen members opposed it, while 12 countries were absent.

Proposed by the U.K., the U.S. and Norway, the resolution says the mission will “investigate and establish the facts, circumstances and root causes of all alleged human rights violations and abuses and violations of international humanitarian law” in Sudan’s war.

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The conflict in Sudan has turned Khartoum and other urban areas into battlefields, wrecking civilian infrastructure and an already battered health care system. Left without basic supplies, many hospitals and medical facilities have closed.

More than 9,000 people have been killed in the conflict, according to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data project, which tracks Sudan’s war.

The fighting has forced over 4.5 million people to flee their homes to other places inside Sudan and more than 1.2 million to seek refuge in neighboring countries, the U.N. migration agency says.

In the first weeks of the war, fighting centered in Khartoum, but it then moved to the western region of Darfur, which was the scene of a genocidal campaign by Arab militia groups, known as jajaweed, against ethnic Africans in the early 2000s. The paramilitary Rapid Support Forces and its allied jajaweed militias have again attacked ethnic African groups in Darfur, say rights groups and the U.N., which has reported mass killings, rape and other atrocities in Darfur and other areas in Sudan.

“Civilians in Sudan are bearing the brunt of the ongoing devastating conflict,” Erika Guevara-Rosas, a senior director with Amnesty international, said a day before the vote. “Parties to the conflict have also committed war crimes, including sexual violence and the targeting of communities based on their ethnic identity.”

The International Criminal Court’s prosecutor announced in July an investigation into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in the latest fighting in Darfur.

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