27 June 2023

Ongoing conflict will lead to million people fleeing country by October – UN

27 June 2023

The United Nations said on Tuesday that the surging violence in Sudan is likely to drive more than one million refugees out of the African country by October, as the 10-week conflict shows few signs of easing.

Sudan descended into chaos after fighting erupted in mid-April between the military, led by general Abdel-Fattah Burhan, and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, commanded by general Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo.

Since then, more than 3,000 people have been killed, the country’s health ministry said, while about 2.5 million people have been displaced, according to the UN.

The violence has been most acute in the capital, Khartoum, but also in the western Darfur region, where RSF and Arab militias are reportedly targeting non-Arab tribes , the UN said.

We expect, unfortunately, looking at the trends, that the conflict will continue and that many in Sudan will opt to go to Egypt

Most of those who have escaped have fled east to Chad.

“We were talking about 100,000 people in six months (fleeing to) Chad. And now the colleagues in Chad have revised their figures to 245,000,” said Raouf Mazou, assistant secretary-general at United Nations High Commission for Refugees, at a news conference in the Swiss city of Geneva.

The province of West Darfur has seen some of the worst violence. In a report last week issued by the Dar Masalit sultanate, the leader of the African Masalit ethnic community accused the RSF and Arab militias of “committing genocide against African civilians”.

He estimated that more than 5,000 people were killed in the province’s capital, Genena, over the past two months.

So far more than 560,000 Sudanese have escaped to neighbouring countries, with Egypt being the primary destination.

“We expect, unfortunately, looking at the trends, that the conflict will continue and that many in Sudan will opt to (go to) Egypt,” Mr Mazou said.

Peace negations mediated by the US and Saudi Arabia in the Saudi coastal town of Jeddah have all but broken down.

The talks, which led to at last nine ceasefires, were formally adjourned last week with both mediators publicly criticising the RSF and the army for continually violating agreed truces.

Throughout the conflict, residential areas and hospitals in Khartoum have been pounded by army airstrikes, while RSF troops, who have the upper hand on the city’s streets, have commandeered civilian homes across the capital and turned them into bases.

Sexual violence, including the rape of women and girls, has been reported in Khartoum and Darfur. Almost all reported cases of sexual attacks were blamed on the RSF, which has not responded to repeated requests for comment.

Late on Monday, the RSF said it would establish an internal body to assess and punish paramilitary troops accused of “violations and misconduct”.

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