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Middle East & North Africa

Civil society demands immediate intervention and thorough investigation in South Kordofan, Sudan

Civil society organisations demand a swift, decisive action and a comprehensive investigation into the crisis in South Kordofan, Sudan, highlighting the urgent need for global intervention.

During the period 9 – 12 February 2024, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and affiliated tribal militias brutally killed more than 76 civilians including several women and children. The massacre took place in the villages of Habila and surrounding areas near Dillinj City in Nuba Mountains/South Kordofan state in Sudan. At least 16 women and girls were kidnapped. Six of those kidnapped were eventually released, and reported that they had experienced sexual violence and rape while in captivity. Additionally, dozens of men and boys are still missing

This brutality was a result of the RSF’s attempt to control the city of Dillinj in South Kordofan in December 2023. The RSF militants attacked several villages to retaliate against civilians in the area who were accused of being in support of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF). More than 40,000 people were displaced and 5 villages were destroyed and burned, including the villages of Zaltia, Tungol and Wata

The internet shutdown, and fighting in the area prevented access to details of these attacks. Members of the RSF forces posted a video showing graphic images of the killed civilians. People who fled the massacre described horrific violence, including abductions of civilians, extra-judicial killings, torture and sexual violence crimes

The displaced population from the area are living in a catastrophic humanitarian situation. The area of Nuba Mountains has been a disputed region since the 1980s. The war of April 2023 increased the suffering of local communities as humanitarian assistance is blocked, harvest season has failed, and hunger and famine are looming in the area. Lack of accessibility to essential health services led to the death of injured civilians in these attacks. Local actors and civil society organisations are working in restrictive conditions and with limited resources to save lives on the ground.

Human rights defenders and peace activists in the area were specially targeted and abused on an ethnic basis. Injured civilians were not able to access health care due to the violence on the roads, in addition to lack of medicine and operating health facilities. The situation in the region is catastrophic and might continue to worsen with the lack of access to humanitarian aid and internet shutdown. 

The international community must uphold their commitments towards, and responsibility to protect, civilians by taking urgent measures to ensure access for necessary and life saving humanitarian aid. The situation in this region is deteriorating further on a daily basis, which will lead to another catastrophic crisis in the southern parts of Sudan and expand the war to new areas. Urgent actions are needed to save lives and protect civilians. 

We the undersigned organisations and groups call on: 

The fighting parties to ensure: 

  1. Immediate cessation of hostilities by all fighting parties, the prompt creation of safe corridors and locations for the operations of humanitarian aid organisations and groups, and to open routes to allow aid to reach civilians and ensure protection of humanitarian workers. 
  2. Immediate cessation of attacks on health facilities, medical supplies and health workers, and uphold their obligations under international human rights law. In addition, the Sudanese government must fulfill its commitments regarding the right to health.
  3. Ensure access to telecommunications.

On all relevant UN human rights mechanisms, in particular designated Expert on Sudan, UN Special Procedures, and the recently established Fact-Finding Mission on Sudan to:

Collaborate with local civil society groups to collect evidence, investigate and report on the violations committed, including violations against civilians in Nuba mountains including enforce disappearances, extra-judicial killings, torture and use of sexual violence as a weapon of war including against children, humanitarian crisis including famine, attacks against medical workers, health facilities and lack of access to essential health services as well as the destruction of entire villages, and the internal displacement of thousands, attacks against civil society actors including human rights defenders, and internet shutdowns. 

On States and the international community to: 

  1. Support the investigations of the International Criminal Court, and expansion of its jurisdiction to all conflict regions in Sudan following the war of April 2023, emphasising the need for justice and accountability for the millions of Sudanese awaiting justice.
  2. Exert pressure the fighting parties to cease hostilities, protect civilians and humanitarian workers,implement the international human rights law, as well as ensuring the restoration of telecommunications and open safe channels for humanitarian aid to reach civilians.
  3. Create an immediate long-term protection programme for defenders including women human rights defenders (and their families) that provides relocation services (in several locations if needed), psychological support that addresses post-traumatic syndroms in war and conflict, including from gender-based violence crimes, in addition to all necessary means that ensure the continuation of defenders’ work and defense of rights
  4. Provide support for the Fact-Finding Mission on Sudan and other international mechanisms mandated to document human rights violations in Sudan, including by ensuring that these entities have the necessary resources to carry out their work effectively.


  1. Sudan Peace and Security Monitor 
  2. Nuba Mountains Solidarity Abroad in the UK (NMSA)
  3. The Committee for Supporting Humanitarian Aid in Nuba Mountains 
  4. Sudanese Women’s Rights Action 
  5. Pan-African Forum for Development (PAFD)
  6. Nora Center for Combating Sexual Violence 
  7. US-Educated Sudanese Association (USESA)
  8. The Regional Coalition for Women Human Rights Defenders in Southwest Asia and North Africa (WHRDMENA)
  9. Sudanese Doctors for Human Rights
  10. Governance Programming Overseas
  11. International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)

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