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The EU must change gears in the face of atrocities in Sudan

The EU must change gears in the face of atrocities in Sudan
The EU must change gears in the face of atrocities in Sudan


Over 500,000 Sudanese have also fled north to Egypt, but thousands have been driven back into the war zone. Thousands of Sudanese have fled to Libya or Tunisia, only to be trapped between a lack of protection there and EU policies that externalize migration controls.

In February, dozens of young Sudanese were among the victims of a tragic shipwreck while seeking safety in Italy.

There is ample evidence available to the EU about the scale of abuses, those responsible and the unwillingness of warring parties to inflict civilian harm. However, the EU still seems unwilling to use the range of tools at its disposal to ensure accountability and protect civilians.

Several EU counterparts have already sanctioned responsible individuals and entities, with the US leading the way. EU member states should follow suit and sanction senior commanders implicated in the widespread killing of civilians and the deliberate obstruction of humanitarian aid.

But sanctions should only be part of a broader concerted global effort to protect civilians and ensure consequences for these heinous crimes.

It's time to step out and protect those in need

Positively, on May 24, the African Union Peace and Security Council called for the AU High-Level Panel on Sudan and the new AU Special Envoy for the Prevention of Genocide to develop a civilian protection plan.

Last week, the UN Security Council finally adopted a resolution on the dramatic situation in Al Fasher and asked the secretary-general to make recommendations on the protection of civilians in Sudan.

The EU and its member states should actively express support for these calls and work with the AU, the UN and others, especially the UK and the US, to identify the most important options to establish and urgently establish a force to protect civilians.

The EU must now act more assertively at the UN, encouraging the three African states on the UN Security Council to work towards establishing such a force.

It should also press for the full implementation of the existing UN arms embargo on Darfur, calling out countries such as the United Arab Emirates for violating it, and press for its extension to all of Sudan.

Finally, the EU should provide financial support and call for the protection of local Sudanese responders who are faced with providing civilians with support, food and medical care.

The EU's response must echo the speed with which the disaster is unfolding on the ground. The residents of El Fasher and other civilians across Sudan deserve nothing less.

Laetitia Bader is Deputy Africa Director at Human Rights Watch.




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