Brussels 24.04.2023 Fighting has erupted in the capital – Khartoum, and other cities in Sudan as powerful rival military factions battle for control, increasing the risk of a nationwide civil war. The sudden outbreak of violence between the military and the well-armed Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary group on April 15 triggered a humanitarian crisis and has took lives of 427 people, U.N. agencies said. The inhabitants and international community in Khartoum has been at risk as clashes spread through residential areas.
The army and RSF jointly staged a coup in 2021 but fell out during negotiations to integrate the two groups and form a civilian government four years after long-ruling autocrat Omar al-Bashir was toppled.
Their rivalry has raised the risk of a wider conflict in the regions and beyond that could draw in outside powers: Sudan has seven direct neighbours and is situated strategically between Gulf nations, Egypt and sub-Saharan Africa.
Beyond the capital, Khartoum, people are reported to have fled clashes in several areas including the Western region of Darfur, made up of three states, as well as from Blue Nile State on the border with Ethiopia and South Sudan, and North Kordofan State southwest of Khartoum, according to a U.N. update on Monday, April 24.
The evacuation of international staff from Darfur, the war-torn Western region where fighting has also escalated, is also under way, with some heading west to Chad and others to South Sudan, the source said.
Up to 20,000 people have already fled to Chad, U.N. agencies reported last week. Officials in South Sudan’s Renk County said on Monday they had received about 10,000 people since the crisis started.
Dau Aturjong, the army’s commander in Renk, said three quarters of the arrivals are South Sudanese while the others are Sudanese, Eritrean, Kenyan, Ugandan and Somali.
“Yesterday alone we received 3,000 people, and many people are still on the way because of transport. We have no fuel to bring them in,” said county commissioner Kak Padiet.
South Sudan won independence from Sudan in 2011, after a decades-long civil war. Since independence the new country has been beset by its own civil war, and refugees had previously spilled into its northern neighbour.
Hundreds of people, including residents of Turkey, Djibouti and other countries, have arrived in the Ethiopian town of Metema Yohannes near the Sudan border, Mayor Habtie Addisu said, according to Reuters reports.
Due to the ongoing fighting most hospitals closed and curtailed water and electricity supplies. The killing of aid workers, including three from the World Food Programme, has led the U.N. agency to pause its operations in the country, which prior to the conflict relied on humanitarian aid for about a third of its people.