UN rights body adopts resolution to probe rights abuses in war-torn Sudan

GENEVA (Reuters) – The United Nations Humans Rights Council on Wednesday adopted a resolution that opens a probe into the humanitarian situation in Sudan where the army and a paramilitary group have been fighting for the last six months.

“This resolution is a call to action for what we all agree are the pressing priorities for the warring parties to cease their atrocities and other abuses, to lay down their weapons and to allow safe, rapid and unhindered humanitarian access that is so desperately needed,” said Michèle Taylor, permanent representative of the United States to the U.N. Human Rights Council, one of the countries that presented the resolution.

Nineteen countries voted in favour, 16 voted against and 12 abstained.

Violence and displacement have escalated since fighting between the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) erupted in April. Among the worst affected regions is West Darfur, where ethnically motivated attacks have killed hundreds.

The RSF has denied accusations by rights groups it is behind attacks on civilians, while saying any of its soldiers found to be involved would be brought to justice. Sudan also denies killing civilians and describes the conflict as an internal affair.

“The international community cannot place blind trust in the goodwill of generals who have shown utter disregard for the lives of civilians and their obligation to protect them,” Taylor said.

The United Nations said last week it was struggling to reach 18 million people in need in Sudan to fend off a humanitarian disaster, hampered by insecurity, interference from the warring parties and a lack of international support.

(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)