Sudan's descent into famine, violence, and forced conscription

Enlist or die: Sudan’s descent into famine, violence, and forced conscription

  • Published on
    March 19, 2024
  • News Source Image
  • Category:
    Forced Labor, Slavery In conflict
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In mid-December 2023, Sudan’s breadbasket, Al Jazira state, witnessed a chilling ultimatum: “Enlist or die.” The Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a powerful paramilitary group, swept through the region, wielding food as a weapon, withholding supplies to coerce men and boys into joining their ranks. Over three dozen witnesses attest to the RSF’s brutal tactics, which include intimidation, torture, and starvation.

The conflict in Sudan, which erupted into a civil war between the RSF and the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) last April, has plunged the nation into chaos. Both sides stand accused of targeting civilians, with the RSF implicated in enslavement and other atrocities, particularly in Sudan’s western Darfur region.

“A campaign of terror”

CNN reports,

The militia tried to recruit 20 young men from the village, eyewitnesses, survivors and families of victims said. When the residents refused, they set up a base in the village, unleashing what the witnesses described as a campaign of terror. Homes were looted, and supermarkets and food warehouses were set on fire before the soldiers took off with over 30 stolen vehicles.

The three dozen eyewitnesses CNN spoke with from across Jazira, including survivors and the families of victims, say refusing the RSF’s ultimatum comes at the cost of food, home and safety. CNN is not naming the villages and most of the people who spoke due to fear of RSF reprisals.

Since December, nearly 700 men and 65 children have been forcibly recruited in horrifying circumstances by the RSF in Al Jazira alone. In one incident, six men were executed for refusing to join the militia.

Millions facing starvation

Many of those conscripted were once farmers or traders forced to leave farms and business behind. Al Jazira state, with its fertile lands and irrigation systems, once produced nearly half of Sudan’s wheat. Now, the RSF holds sway over the region’s agriculture, further threatening the nation’s food security. Anette Hoffmann, a researcher, warns that the RSF’s violent advances and destruction of vital infrastructure will worsen Sudan’s food shortages.

“Those hampering life-saving aid must be held responsible for the famine they cause.”

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) confirms that RSF-affiliated groups looted warehouses containing life-saving food supplies in Al Jazira. The destruction of agricultural infrastructure and looting of food stocks imperil millions facing starvation. Médecins Sans Frontières reports children dying every two hours from hunger in displaced persons camps in Darfur.

Despite the escalating crisis, the international response remains inadequate. The United Nations has called for urgent action to avert a humanitarian catastrophe, but funding remains insufficient. Meanwhile, the RSF continues to recruit civilians by force, perpetuating a cycle of violence and deprivation.

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Ayo Maat
Ayo Maat
3 months ago

The USA did not help Sudanese civilians nor did the UN or Emirates when Sudanese people first called for help. They are not having a civil war. This is the rhetoric being used to withhold funds and humanitarian aid. Sudan is or was rich with food, gold, fertile soil, and other resources. How do we let children die every two hours and call ourselves a civilization? How do we send aid to Europe and ignore Sudan? Of course we need to help our own a first, but let’s stop these damn wars of control!

Brian Broadley
Brian Broadley
3 months ago

N World Peace until there is a consolidated World Government, (paraphrased Bertrand Russell)

Smudge
Smudge
3 months ago

Where is the ICC? Too busy dealing with a crime that is not a crime with Israel. Blatant anti-Semitism is more important than deal with the Muslim abuses in Sudan. I think that says it all.

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