Before crossing the border and fleeing to Chad, Malim was devastated by what he saw in Darfur, western Sudan.
“If the people I work with find out that I showed you these photos and videos or that I recorded them, I’m dead,” he says. The city of El Jenena. We have changed the name for security.
Before leaving the country, he was one of the people who were hired to pick up bodies from the streets and bury them in mass graves.
Sudan has been experiencing heavy fighting between the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and the army since April, with the worst fighting taking place in Darfur, the home of the RSF.
Warning: This report contains disturbing images
The photos showed dozens of corpses, some covered in blankets and blankets, others bloated and already decomposing. Malim showed photos of aid agency compounds smashed and looted.
“I felt terrible. I felt as if they had died in fear and terror. Many of them had been lying dead on the streets for over a week,” he tells us, visibly distressed.
Perhaps the most disturbing thing he showed us was the video he took hiding in the bushes. It shows bodies being dumped from a lorry into a mass grave.
“We went to the forest graveyard to bury the bodies. But the RSF did not allow us. On the orders of the RSF, the truck driver was ordered to dump the bodies in a ditch,” Malim said. The RSF later ordered them to leave the area.
“They should have been buried according to the Muslim system. We should have offered prayers for them. But the RSF was thrown away like garbage,” he said.
No one knows whose body it is or how they were killed. But many families who have sought asylum in Chad have told us that RSF is targeting young people and boys, particularly in West Darfur, forcing them to flee their hiding places and killing them.
The families said they were targeted by members of non-Arab communities. They describe being stopped at RSF checkpoints and asked about their nationality. They told us that they were too afraid to say they were wrong if they were killed.
The BBC did not respond to RSF’s request for comment on the allegations. But earlier this week he denied allegations that he had carried out similar attacks on members of the Masalit community in May.
Malim’s account matches details in a UN report published on July 13, which said locals were forced to dispose of the bodies of at least 87 Masalit tribesmen and others believed to have been killed by the RSF in mass graves in West Darfur.
The photos and videos on Malim’s phone show that they were taken between June 20 and 21, the same dates mentioned in the UN report.
According to the UN report, Malim told us that the bodies were buried in an open area called al-Turab al-Ahmar (Red Soil), west of El Jinnah and near the police station.
According to the United Nations statement, some of the people died due to lack of medical treatment. In one Malim video, a man was found alive in a pile of dead bodies. Flies hovered around his dry, cracked lips as he tried to speak. Malim said the victim was shot and had been sleeping for eight days. We don’t know what happened to this man.
Malim told us that he took the videos to document what happened in his hometown. But he soon felt that it was no longer safe for him to remain in the city.
I was scared because more than once they were looking for people with cell phones while they were cleaning.
Darfur’s Arab and black African communities have been at war for years – the worst violence two decades ago when non-Arabs took up arms and accused the government of discrimination.
The RSF was born out of the infamous Janjaweed Arab militia, which brutally crushed the uprising, killing hundreds of thousands of people. The group has been accused of widespread atrocities and genocide in what has been described as the first genocide of the 21st century.
The fighting between the RSF and the Sudanese army in April seems to have reignited this conflict. Last month, the governor of West Darfur was killed shortly after accusing the RSF of committing genocide against the Masalit people.
This violence in many areas of Darfur does not appear to be arbitrary. We have heard allegations that tens of thousands have been sent to Chad by the RSF and allied Arab militants to attack senior officials in black African groups such as Masalit.
RSF says it is a revival of tribal violence seen in the 2000s and has no involvement.
In the year The International Criminal Court (ICC), which has been investigating crimes committed in Darfur since 2005, has opened a new investigation into alleged war crimes in Sudan.
Attorney General Karim Khan told the UN Security Council there was a risk of “allowing history to repeat itself – the same tragic story”.
Like the thousands of Sudanese who have fled Darfur, Malim has little to return. The house was burnt down and all the family’s possessions were looted. But sadly, many of his friends and family will not be there.