Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday declared that Sudan's warring sides have committed war crimes. File Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo
Dec. 7 (UPI) -- The warring sides in Sudan's nearly eight-month bloody conflict have committed war crimes, the United States declared Wednesday, as the Biden administration tries to press international efforts to end the fighting and address the humanitarian and human rights crises it has caused.
The declaration was made Wednesday by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, nearly eight months after war erupted in the northeast African nation between the Sudanese Armed Forces and its breakaway Rapid Support Forces on April 15.
He also determined that members of the RSF and allied militias have committed crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing.
"The expansion of the needless conflict between RSF and the SAF has caused grievous human suffering," Blinken said in a statement.
"The SAF and the RSF must stop this conflict now, comply with their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law, and hold accountable those responsible for atrocities."
The determinations follow "careful analysis of the law and available facts," Blinken said, while listing a litany of atrocities committed by both sides including the execution of detainees and the use of sexual violence against women and girls. The RSF has also been accused of targeting the same communities who survived the Darfur genocide that occurred nearly two decades ago.
Blinken explained the determinations provide "force and renewed urgency" for African and international efforts to end the violence and address the humanitarian and human rights crises.
The determinations come in the wake of negotiations between the two sides having fallen apart, and a week after the Security Council terminated the United Nations mission to the country after Khartoum called for its withdrawal last month.
Though the determinations made by Blinken on Wednesday do not come with sanctions or new punitive tools, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller defended the action to reporters during a press conference.
"It is important to send a signal to the international community what in fact has happened here," he said. "We think it's important to point that out and call it what it is."
Asked about additional sanctions, Miller said they have imposed Sudan-related sanctions and though none were imposed Wednesday that doesn't mean the tool won't be used in the future.
"We have taken sanctions in the past and we are ready to impose additional measures if and when we have developed appropriate facts to support them," he said.
For years, Sudan had teetered on the precipice of war following the ousting of the country's former three-decade dictator government of President Omar al-Bashir in a civilian-backed coup in 2019.
Amid its crawl toward civil rule, Sudan's military leader Gen. Abdul Fattah al-Burhan and his deputy, RSF head Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, executed another coup but infighting over control of the government turned into bloodshed mid-April.
According to U.N. statistics from mid-October, some 9,000 people have been killed in the conflict and more than 5.6 million have been displaced with 25 million in need of aid.