The humanitarian division of the United Nations recently issued an urgent warning about the deteriorating conditions for civilians in Sudan. The area has been afflicted by a growing number of violent conflicts between two opposing armed groups and rising tensions between communities.
The recent tragedy in which at least 15 civilians in Khartoum’s capital city were killed, an outcome of shelling on their homes, exposes the gravity of the situation. This comes as paramilitary forces in Darfur claim substantial territorial advances in a heated struggle with Sudan’s army.
Tension Between Army Chief and Former Deputy
This struggle has its roots in the violent conflict that has been going on since April. The army, under the command of Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), under the command of Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, al-Burhan’s former deputy, are the forces in opposition. The conflict is concentrated in heavily populated regions, endangering the lives of a great number of civilians.
Concerns over RSF Developments in Darfur
The RSF has advanced significantly in Darfur in recent weeks, frequently striking army bases. The region of Darfur has already seen decades of conflict, marked by atrocities carried out by armed organizations, most notably the Janjaweed militia, the predecessor to the RSF, against civilians. Particularly concerning is the paramilitary force’s recent declaration of the “liberation” of an army base in El Geneina, the state capital of West Darfur. A communications blackout in the area has heightened concerns regarding further atrocities.
Widespread Humanitarian Crisis
A catastrophic humanitarian crisis brought on by the bloodshed in Darfur has compelled more than 500,000 people to flee to neighboring Chad, which is only 30 kilometers (18 miles) away from the conflict’s center in El Geneina. The grave nature of the situation and its significant effects on the civilian population in the area are made apparent by this mass displacement.
Furthermore, the International Criminal Court (ICC) has responded to the events in West Darfur, which have been made worse by disturbing claims of ethnically motivated killings carried out by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and their affiliated militias. In light of these extremely alarming events, the ICC has launched a new investigation into the claims of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
After taking control of the army base in El Geneina, the RSF has now taken control of three such bases in a matter of days. The previous two were in Nyala, the capital of South Darfur state, and Zalingei, the capital of Central Darfur. Sudan’s essential services are severely damaged as a result of the continuous conflict between opposing generals Al-Burhan and Daglo.
Entire settlements in Darfur’s huge western area and the capital have been completely destroyed. Sadly, reasonable estimates of the number of casualties over the roughly seven months of fighting indicate approximately 10,400. More than 6 million people have been forced to leave their homes due to the violence, both in Sudan and in neighboring countries.
Attempts at International Mediation
The fighting in Sudan continues to escalate despite the fact that officials of the warring parties are now in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, for talks that are being mediated by Saudi Arabia and the US. International efforts must intensify immediately in order to find a peaceful solution and lessen the suffering of the vulnerable civilians trapped in the crossfire. The population’s safety and well-being in the Darfur region must be given first priority, and the international community must continue to be watchful and apply pressure on all parties involved.