Sudan’s escalating conflict displaces over 700,000 civilians, warns UN
The escalating conflict between Sudanese military generals continues to take a toll on civilian lives, causing an alarming increase in the number of people fleeing their homes. According to the United Nations, over the past week, the number of internally displaced persons has doubled from 340,000 to more than 700,000. Furthermore, the International Organisation for Migration reports that hundreds have been killed in the ensuing battles, which began on April 15.
In the midst of the fighting, additional concerns have emerged as separate ethnic clashes in the south of the country claimed a minimum of 16 lives. In the east, a powerful group that has so far remained uninvolved in the conflict demonstrated their support for the army. The heaviest fighting has been concentrated in the capital, Khartoum, but parts of the western Darfur region have also experienced intensified conflict.
The civilians who remain in the war-torn areas face shortages of essential resources such as water, electricity, food, and medical care. Before the conflict began, about one-third of the population was in dire need of humanitarian assistance.
Evacuations led by foreign countries have been ongoing by land, sea, and air, with thousands of civilians departing through Port Sudan on the Red Sea, which has so far managed to remain unaffected by the violence. However, demonstrations that took place on Monday in support of arming civilians raised further concerns in a country already plagued by ethnic unrest.
Peace negotiations happening in Jeddah between representatives from the warring generals have so far been fruitless. Magdi el-Gizouli, from the Rift Valley Institute, warns that the protracted conflict poses a growing risk of locals arming themselves, or the army resorting to raising counter-militias.
In the past, Sudan has experienced localized conflicts which have often centred around access to scarce resources, such as water. The violence has also highlighted the breakdown of security following a coup in October 2021 by army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his former deputy Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, which threw a democratic transition into disarray following the ousting of long-time autocrat Omar al-Bashir. The two generals subsequently fell out, leading to the current conflict, reports Bangkok Post.
Aside from the domestic devastation, there is a growing concern about the potential impact of the escalating conflict on neighbouring South Sudan. Currently, Sudan hosts over 200,000 South Sudanese refugees who might be forced to return home if stability does not return swiftly. United Nations special envoy for the Horn of Africa, Hanna Tetteh, addressed the Security Council yesterday, highlighting the potential challenge facing South Sudan, where two-thirds of the population already require humanitarian assistance.
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