Mass grave with at least 87 bodies found in Sudan’s West Darfur, U.N. says

Smoke rising over Khartoum, Sudan
Smoke rises over Khartoum, Sudan, in April amid fighting between the country’s military and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces.
(Maheen S. / Associated Press)

The bodies of dozens of people allegedly killed by Sudanese paramilitary and allied militias have been uncovered in a mass grave in Sudan’s West Darfur region, the United Nations said Thursday.

According to “credible information” obtained by the U.N. Human Rights Office, the bodies of the 87 people, some of whom belong to the ethnic African Masalit tribe, were dumped in a shallow grave just outside the West Darfur city of Geneina.

The first 37 bodies were buried June 20, the U.N. agency said in a statement from Geneva. The next day, 50 more bodies were dumped at the same site. Seven women and seven children were among those buried.


Sudan has been rocked by violence since April 15, when tensions between the military and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces erupted into open fighting.

Darfur has been at the epicenter of the 12-week conflict, evolving into ethnic violence with RSF troops and allied Arab militias attacking African ethnic groups.

The RSF and allied Arab militias rampaged through the western region, forcing hundreds of thousands to flee their homes, rights groups say. Slightly more than 238,000 people have crossed the border from Darfur into neighboring Chad, according to recent figures from the International Organization for Migration. Amid the pillaging, entire towns and villages in the province of West Darfur have been burned to the ground.

Sudan’s conflict has displaced more than 2 million people as the tally of civilians killed in the fighting climbed to at least 959 people.

June 14, 2023

News of the mass grave comes just days after Human Rights Watch called for the International Criminal Court to investigate atrocities in Darfur. In highlighting its call, it pointed to the “summary executions” of at least 28 Masalit tribesmen at the hands of RSF and Arab militias in the town of Misterei, also in West Darfur province.

The New York-based rights group said that several thousand members of the Rapid Support Forces and their allies rampaged through Misterei on May 28 armed with assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns, before slaughtering its male Masalit inhabitants. A total of 97 people were killed in the attack, it said.

Darfur had been the scene of a genocidal war in the early 2000s, when ethnic Africans rebelled, accusing the Arab-dominated government in Khartoum of discrimination.


The government of Omar Bashir, the autocratic leader at the time, was accused of retaliating by arming local nomadic Arab tribes, known as janjaweed, who targeted civilians.

Janjaweed fighters were folded into the RSF.