Masalit, Darfur, Sudan

Ethnic Cleansing In Sudan’s West Darfur Displaced More Than 6 Million Masalit

Masalit refugees are heading to Chad for safety.

The paramilitary group, identified as Rapid Support Forces (RSF), has allegedly carried out ethnic cleansing throughout Sudan’s West Darfur region, resulting in the displacement of over six million Masalit people. Refugees have reportedly been seen traveling nearly 20 miles to the neighboring country of Chad, seeking refuge amid the violence.

Videos of the brutality enacted upon the Masalit people were allegedly shared online and depicted RSF members whipping and shooting at captives they referred to as “dogs.”

The attacks occurred on an army base in Ardamata. The location has acted as a haven for internally displaced people (IDP) for nearly a decade. Men dressed in uniforms bearing the RSF logo were also reportedly seen forcing captives to lie face down on the ground and were heard being instructed to “slay them.”

The alleged RSF attacks are being considered a humanitarian crisis by the United Nations (UN).

“Sickening reports and images coming from Ardamata, West Darfur, inc [sic] of assassinations, grave violations and massacres of civilians, following RSF takeover of [the] area. Those with authority must uphold international humanitarian law, protect civilians, ensure [the] rule of law and provide unfettered humanitarian access to vulnerable persons,” the UN’s deputy humanitarian coordinator in Sudan, Toby Harward, said via a post on X.

RSF troops had completely taken control of the army base by Saturday, Nov. 4, causing many soldiers to also flee to neighboring countries. More than 500,000 people have crossed into Chad, with U.N. officials expecting thousands more to do the same as the conflict persists.

RSF leaders claim the violence enacted upon the Masalit tribe was not ethnic cleansing but rather an unfortunate casualty of their ongoing war with the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), which began to escalate in April.

“The conflict ended with our forces seizing control of the SAF 15th Infantry Division and liberating the division headquarters,” the group said, according to CNN. “Since the division was liberated, Ardmetta has seen no further acts of aggression or armed conflict. Residents have returned to their homes, and security has stabilized, allowing life to resume as normal.”

However, refugees who have descended upon Chad in recent weeks have told a vastly different and much more horrific tale.

“Our people there in Ardmata were killed and displaced. Children are slaughtered, women’s money and belongings are robbed, and they can’t escape,” one Sudanese woman, Nabila Abdel Rahman, said.

Though attacks carried out between Nov. 1 and Nov. 8 earned national attention, the UN investigated over a dozen mass graves in Darfur back in September. Since then, the number of Masalit people allegedly killed at the hands of the RSF has ballooned to over 5,000.

In 2004, the U.S. government declared actions taken by Sudanese leaders that allowed for mass killings of several African ethnic groups by local Arab militia, known as the “Janjaweed,” to be genocide.