War has been raging in Sudan for almost 7 months and details of the Rapid Support Forces’ (RSF) brutality in Darfur have been hard to come by. In an exclusive report, CNN’s Chief International Investigative Correspondent Nima Elbagir and team travelled to neighbouring Chad and interviewed over a dozen survivors and eyewitnesses who spoke of being raped and “sold like cattle”. Providing extraordinary testimony as to the depths the RSF is willing to sink in their war for dominance with Sudan’s army.
In recent weeks, the RSF has made its second significant advance in West Darfur State, reportedly killing more than 700 people over the course of several days north of the provincial capital El Geneina. CNN interviewed refugees from El Geneina who detailed almost unimaginable depravity, describing systematic rape and enslavement by the RSF in their push to occupy West Darfur.
Over the last year during the war in Sudan, the RSF have targeted members of African tribal groups including the Masalit who claim Darfur as their ancestral land. Many of the RSF belong to tribes, which unlike the Masalait claim Arab ancestry.
Disturbing images have emerged from Darfur of a mass grave filled with over a dozen bodies. One man can be seen throwing earth on top of another, but he is still alive. A man off camera can be heard shouting as someone appears from beneath a pile of earth.
Communication in Darfur has been deliberately choked by the RSF. Elbagir travelled to a refugee camp in Adre, Chad where survivors and eyewitnesses of these brutal attacks were able to cross the border. CNN interviewed over a dozen survivors and eyewitnesses from El Geneina, where civilians were targeted and where women were being sold from slave houses.
One survivor tells Elbagir, “The RSF said, leave these ones, we will find better ones to sell. These ones let’s rape them.”
Another explains, “There were RSF soldiers outside (the building). They beat me until they forced me into the building. Inside I saw nine or ten girls, some without clothes. They said, we kill all the men, we will not leave any black skin here. You have to leave, get out. They said they will be the only ones to sleep with us, because if we have our own children, our sons will one day take revenge.”
But it’s not just women being affected. 16-year-old Mahdi was kidnapped by the RSF with his brother and forced to work at a farm. Mahdi says, “We were 8 people. We were all tied up. They [ buyers] would come and say I want the strong boys. Someone came over and started to feel my arms. I was tied up and blindfolded. I couldn’t see a thing. I could just feel him hitting me here. And he said, that boy I want him.”
Survivor after survivor told CNN how the RSF spoke of wiping out the African descendent Masalit. It’s Masalit ancestral land in Darfur that the RSF are currently occupying, part of a fertile land mass that the commander of the RSF has been strategically looking to secure for the last 20 years, changing the demographics from African to Arab.