Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report today that says a Sudanese government controlled militia group in the country's war-torn region of Darfur has been carrying out killings, mass rapes of civilians, and other horrendous atrocities over the last one and a half years.
The conflict in Darfur began in 2003 when non-Arab tribes began battling the Arab-led government in Khartoum, saying it was discriminating against them. Although there were mass killings when the conflict began it had eased over the last decade, but now as the non Arab insurgency continues, the Khartoum Government has escalated attacks on the rebels.
The HRW report said most of the atrocities have been committed by Arab fighters from a recently formed sub group of the feared "Janjaweed" brigades that call themselves Rapid Support Forces (RSF).
HRW's Africa director Daniel Bekele called on the Government to disband the group and bring to justice guilty officials and commanders.
He said "The RSF has killed, raped and tortured civilians in scores of villages in an organized, deliberate, and systematic way,"
The report's findings were based on interviews with 212 witnesses and victims.
A United Nations (UN) official said the HRW report catalogued the "devastating effect" of the government's campaign against rebel forces. Ironically a joint UN-African Union (AU) peacekeeping force in Sudan known as UNAMID has been criticized for failing to adequately protect civilians against a Government with a known policy of genocide in Darfur.
UNAMID has also been accused of keeping back information on violence against peacekeepers and civilians by Sudanese Government controlled forces and militia.
Bekele criticized the AU and U.N. for "sitting on their hands" while the RSF continued its atrocities.
In the report HRW cited the January 2015 attacks on the town of Golo,where 21 people interviewed had witnessed rapes, including that of scores of women patients at Golos hospital , killings, and indiscriminate beatings. Many women were raped in front of family and neighbors and those who had resisted had been killed.
In 2014 the Khartoum based Government kicked UNAMID out of the country for a period of time for investigating an alleged mass rape by its soldiers.
The government has denied any wrongdoing by its forces or militia allies.