Geneva - An immediate independent investigation must be launched into reports of a Sunday morning aerial attack on a Khartoum market, which resulted in dozens of deaths and injuries, Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor said in a statement.
Warplanes reportedly attacked the outdoor Qouro market in Khartoum’s Mayo neighbourhood around 7 a.m. local time, killing approximately 40 people and injuring others, according to the South Belt Emergency Room. Injured victims and the bodies of the deceased were transported to the nearby Bashaer University Hospital, and locals were asked for blood donations to help with rescue efforts.
It is currently not possible to determine which party to the conflict bears direct responsibility for the attack. Social media accounts affiliated with the Sudanese army published posts justifying the attack, claiming that the targeted market was being used to trade property looted from the homes of Sudanese people who fled after the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) took control of their areas.
Euro-Med Monitor emphasised that there is no military necessity for targeting civilians and civilian objects in this manner and causing heavy human losses, and this attack may constitute a war crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Even if the market is used for trading looted property and is frequented by RSF members, targeting it is completely unjustifiable, as it has not been militarised and retains its civilian nature and, therefore cannot be a legitimate target.
“Over five months of conflict in Sudan, the two sides have not stopped promoting their respect for the principles of international humanitarian law, but facts on the ground clearly reveal the falsity of such assertions,” said Mohammad Moghabat, Euro-Med Monitor’s regional office director in Lebanon.
“What is truly concerning,” Moghabat added, “is that the two conflicting parties have not yet faced serious and firm international pressure to stop fighting or to spare civilians from military operations.” This has likely contributed to the parties’ blatant disregard for the “norms of international humanitarian law that require the protection of civilians”, he contended.
The military conflict between the Sudanese army and the RSF has exacerbated the country’s already dire humanitarian situation. Since the fighting began on 15 April this year, nearly 7,500 people have been killed and thousands have been injured, with over 4.5 million people forced to flee their homes, including 3.6 million who are internally displaced.
Food supplies have been depleted in some areas due to violent clashes and road closures, and most hospitals have been unable to operate normally, resulting in the deaths of a large number of civilians due to hunger and disease. The country faces rising cases of “measles, malaria, whooping cough, dengue fever, and acute watery diarrhoea”, according to the UN.
As the critical services of relief organisations have been halted due to the ongoing fighting, 498 Sudanese children have died from starvation since the start of the conflict, according to Save the Children. The organisation stated that it had to close 57 of its nutrition facilities, while the remaining 108 facilities are running critically low on therapeutic food stocks.
Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor calls for all necessary measures to be taken to identify those responsible for the attack on the Qouro market south of Khartoum, bring them to justice, and ensure they do not escape punishment.
Both parties to the Sudanese conflict must establish safe and permanent humanitarian corridors to ensure the implementation of humanitarian operations, such as the provision of health care services, food, water, and energy supplies. Euro-Med Monitor emphasises the critical need for an immediate and comprehensive end to the fighting to prevent further deterioration of the dangerous humanitarian situation.