Rapid Support Forces commit another massacre in West Darfur
4,500 buildings in Sirba town razed and dozens killed
The Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and affiliated constituent militias have committed another massacre in West Darfur, killing dozens of residents of Sirba and Abu Surouj Camp, and going house-to-house burning thousands of homes.
The killings and razing of the town took place last week starting July 24, and unfolded over several days, according to survivor accounts published and broadcast in the media and on social media, including a report we published three days ago in Arabic.
For instance, Dakka Abdulaziz Dakka, who is one of the survivors of the massacre and an official of the health clinic in the locality, stated in the below video that 12 pregnant women were killed in the RSF attack on the health center.
“What happened in Sirba is the following: the Arabs came. The vehicles and motorcycles of the Rapid Support Forces came. They burned the city and destroyed it completely. They killed all the people, men, women and children—they did not differentiate. They killed them straight away,” the health official said.
The dead and injured were left in the streets and some people were inside homes that burned, he added. The Darfur Bar Association circulated a list of the names of 29 victims, but that number does not represent the full number of victims, rather only those who were identified.
Another survivor, Sheikh Suleiman Ibrahim, told Radio Dabanga that at least 18 people are missing, several women and girls were raped, and about 20 wounded arrived in Chad. “Almost all residents fled Sirba. Only the elderly and people with disabilities remained.”
Another Sirba resident and teacher, Abdallah Abakr Ishaq, said in a video circulating on social media, “The problem that happened started from July 24 until July 26, that was the last day of the attacks on Sirba from all sides… the people who came and attacked and killed people, and raped the women, and burned the homes, and took their food and burned the shops—those were the Rapid Support and the Janjaweed.”
“That is certain, I don’t want any doubt about it because there were more than about 20 vehicles of the Rapid Support.” The teacher added that those who were killed were not targeted because they “belonged to the movements” (i.e., because of a political or military affiliation), but “because they were black.”
Such victim testimonies have now been supplemented by satellite analysis published by an independent monitoring group, the Sudan Conflict Observatory of the Humanitarian Research Lab at the Yale School of Public Health.
The monitoring group found that about 4,500 structures, representing at least 86% percent of structures in the town, were destroyed between July 24 and July 29, 2023.
For context, the report pointed out that residents of Sirba were victims of “attacks on civilians in Darfur during the 2003-2005 genocide perpetrated by the Janjaweed. The destruction of Sirba, West Darfur in the week of 24 July 2023 continues a pattern of violence perpetrated by the Janjaweed and affiliated militias towards the ethnic tribes living in the Sirba Locality.” The vast majority of the victims in Darfur during the first genocide were Fur, Zaghawa, Masalit, Jebel, and Erenga, according to the UN Commission of Inquiry on Darfur, 2005 report. The groups affected in the massacre in Sirba last week included the Masalit and Erenga.
Sirba is 40 km north of the West Darfur capital Al Jeneina (as measured directly), and 74 km by road to the Chad border. It is at least the 27th town that the RSF and aligned forces have destroyed in Darfur, according to the Sudan Conflict Observatory.
“By foot, it takes an estimated 15 hours to clear the distance, not taking into account health and ability of people including elderly, disabled people, or children, security threats, or environmental conditions,” the monitoring group reported.
Many died along the way to Chad as they fled, said Dakka, the health official. Others were stranded in the desert, said Sheikh Ibrahim.
Humanitarian conditions for the survivors in Chad are reportedly quite bad. Reuters reported from Ourang Camp on July 31 that heavy rains and winds have battered the makeshift shelters of the refugees, who are hungry and have struggled to stay warm.
A refugee named Islam, one of 33,000 at the camp, spoke through tears to the Reuters reporter, saying, “Please provide us with a shelter as soon as possible. This is humiliating. Anyone in here lost three or four people and came here with nothing to eat or drink.”
Additional survivor testimonies
We located these videos on social media from survivors of the Sirba attack. We are not aware of the identify of the original poster.
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