The United Nations human rights chief on Wednesday (May 24) described the situation in Sudan as “heartbreaking” and made a direct call to the two warring generals to stop sexual violence and spare the lives of civilians.
Fighting in Sudan that broke out more than a month ago has killed hundreds of civilians and forced more than one million people to flee the violence.
Volker Turk, who met with both generals in Sudan in November, said his office had received reports of fighter jets and clashes in the capital Khartoum overnight despite a ceasefire.
He said his office had documented at least 25 cases of sexual violence so far, and that the real number was likely to be much higher.
“Very, deeply troubling reports of sexual violence in Khartoum and Darfur have emerged – we are aware at least of 25 cases, but we also know how difficult it is to document these cases, so we are sure that the real number of cases is much higher. General al-Burhan, General Dagalo, you must issue clear instructions, in no uncertain terms, to all those under your command, that there is zero tolerance for sexual violence, that perpetrators of all violations must be held accountable. Civilians must be spared, and you must stop this senseless violence now,” he said.
In the same speech, he also expressed concern about shrinking civic space around the world, mentioning China in particular.
Asked about how he would follow up on a report by his predecessor last year, which found that China may have committed crimes against humanity in Xinjiang, he said: “We are on it and we are going to continuously work on it.”
He also voiced broader concerns about the rapid advances in artificial intelligence, specifically the generative AI technology behind ChatGPT, describing both the opportunities and risks as “immense.”
The human rights chief condemned the racist abuse suffered by Real Madrid forward Vinicius Jr during a match at the weekend and called on sport even organisers to “have strategies in place to prevent and counter racism.”