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U.S. imposes sanctions on Sudanese paramilitary leader; boosts humanitarian aid

Sudanese refugees settle temporarily in the town of Adré in Chad along the border of Sudan. Thousands have fled the fighting in Sudan seeking safety in Chad.
H.J. Mai
/
NPR
Sudanese refugees settle temporarily in the town of Adré in Chad along the border of Sudan. Thousands have fled the fighting in Sudan seeking safety in Chad.

ADRE, Chad — The United States has introduced sanctions against the deputy leader of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in Darfur — the paramilitary group currently fighting the Sudanese armed forces — over human rights abuses. It has also announced more than $160 million in additional humanitarian aid to help people in Sudan.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield made the announcement on Wednesday during a trip to Chad's border with Sudan. The ambassador met with Sudanese refugees at a camp in the town of Adré, located along the Chad-Sudan border, as part of a four-day trip to Africa.

The United Nations' migration agency says more than 5 million people have been displaced by the fighting in Sudan. More than 400,000 have fled to Chad, according to the agency.

Recently, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has facilitated convoys to reach both North and South Darfur in the first cross-line access to these areas since the war began in mid-April.

"I am immensely grateful to the government of Chad, local communities, and [non-governmental organization] workers for welcoming these refugees — and for all they are doing to support the Sudanese people," Thomas-Greenfield said. "But despite their heroic efforts, we know so many refugees are still in need of food, water, health care, and other essentials."

There are an estimated 200,000 people living at the camp in Adré. Newer arrivals use branches to build roofs for shelter while those who fled Sudan earlier have constructed stone homes. At a field hospital, children are treated for malnutrition and starvation and some women are treated for abuse they suffered while fleeing.

"I've just witnessed people who are close to dying," said Thomas-Greenfield after meeting with refugees at the field hospital.

U.S. Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield meets Sudanese refugees seeking safety and aid in Chad on Wednesday, September 6th.
H.J. Mai / NPR
/
NPR
U.S. Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield meets Sudanese refugees seeking safety and aid in Chad on Wednesday, September 6th.

The U.S. is already Sudan's top donor, and today's announcement brings its total commitment during the 2023 fiscal year to almost $710 million.

At the same time the ambassador announced the aid increase, the U.S. has introduced more sanctions against senior RSF commanders. The U.S. Treasury Department said it had sanctioned Abdelrahim Hamdan Dagalo, brother of RSF commander Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti, for "his connection to the RSF, whose members have committed human rights abuses against civilians in Sudan, to include conflict-related sexual violence and killings based on ethnicity."

The sanctions prohibit Dagalo from accessing any U.S.-based property, and financial institutions or private individuals that engage in certain activities with him may risk being sanctioned themselves.

In a similar statement, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday that the U.S. was also imposing visa restrictionson another RSF commander, Abdul Rahman Juma, barring him from entering the country. This comes in response to his alleged involvement in the June kidnapping and murder of the former governor of West Darfur province, Khamis Abbakar, and his brother.

"Today's actions by the U.S. government underscores the Biden administration's commitment to the Africa continent and its people," Thomas-Greenfield said.

The ambassador called on both sides "to end the bloodshed," reiterating that there's no military solution to this conflict.

Last month, during the U.S. presidency of the UN Security Council, Thomas-Greenfield chaired the first open briefing on Sudan since the start of the renewed hostilities. During that hearing, UN officials provided detailed testimony about the scale of sexual violence against women and girls and other atrocities.

This Morning Edition digital story was edited by Majd Al-Waheidi. Aya Batrawy contributed reporting from Dubai. contributed to this story

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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H.J. Mai