Ethnic cleansing committed in Darfur, UK says

The BBC has seen new evidence of the brutal ethnic violence that has swept western Sudan since fighting broke out between two rival military factions in April. Analysis of satellite and social media data reveals at least 68 villages in Darfur have been set on fire by armed militias since the civil war began.

The UK Minister for Africa, Andrew Mitchell, told the BBC this bore “all the hallmarks of ethnic cleansing”. It is the first time the British government has used the term to describe what is happening in Sudan.

Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who leads one side in the conflict – the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) – told the BBC he would co-operate with the International Criminal Court (ICC) to bring those guilty to justice.

Much of the ethnic violence is blamed on militias which are part of – or affiliated to – the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), the paramilitary group fighting the SAF for control of the country.

The RSF has repeatedly denied any involvement in the violence in the region and has called for an independent international investigation.

The analysis has been carried out by the Centre for Information Resilience (CIR), a research body partly funded by the British government, which is gathering open-source evidence about the fighting in Sudan.

They use Nasa heat-recognition technology to identify fires. They look at satellite images to detect smoke and burned-out buildings. They match all that with images from the ground on social media, which are geolocated using maps and photos.

The latest verified fires were in a village called Amarjadeed, in southern Darfur, where Nasa and satellite imagery showed burn scars between 18 September and 9 October.



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