Refugees at Risk as Sudan Fighting Spreads from Khartoum

The Sudanese army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, centre, greeting supporters in the marine base in Port Sudan in August. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

South Sudan, East Africa | THE BLACK EXAMINER | Fighting between the Sudanese army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) has extended south of Khartoum towards Gezira state, imperiling the lives of refugees who sought sanctuary there.

Conflict is escalating in South Kordofan state, where the rebel force SPLMN has targeted army barracks. In Darfur, Arab militias affiliated with the RSF stand accused of perpetrating brutal ethnic violence.

Around 20 million children in Sudan have been affected by school closures. The RSF is reportedly recruiting older children from the southern outskirts of Khartoum, while the army is enlisting young adults from tribes in the northern areas it controls.

The conflict, ignited on April 15, is rooted in tensions regarding the transition to civilian rule. Despite months of negotiations, no clear resolution is in sight. This ongoing war has displaced over 5.75 million people, claimed thousands of lives, and razed major cities.

The RSF aims to advance southward into Gezira state, a significant agricultural area and population center. Hundreds of thousands of people, along with some government and humanitarian functions, have relocated there. Recently, the RSF took control of Ailafoun, a sizable town on a route to Madani.

Aid workers face difficulties accessing severely affected areas in Khartoum and Darfur, where reported cases of measles, malaria, dengue fever, and cholera are widespread.

Amid these challenges, residents of Khartoum and surrounding regions are struggling with dwindling resources and psychological distress. The scarcity of food items, market closures due to security concerns, and fears of arrest and interrogation by the RSF have created a grim situation.

Aisha Abdulrahman, who sent some of her children to Chad, recounted the shock of army airstrikes in her Khartoum neighborhood, which disrupted basic services for days. She believes that both the army and RSF are attempting to displace the population without explicitly stating it.

The RSF controls most of Khartoum, and the army’s presence on the streets is minimal. Air strikes and artillery attacks have resulted in significant civilian casualties.

Recent reports indicate ongoing ethnic violence in Darfur, with dozens of villages set ablaze since the start of the civil war.

Efforts to halt the conflict, both regionally and internationally, have waned. Meanwhile, other countries are supplying arms to the warring parties, further fueling the violence.

International attention to Sudan’s crisis has diminished, as events elsewhere capture global headlines.

Al-Tahir Hajar, a former rebel leader, identifies challenges in the leadership of the army, which hampers efforts to end the war. The conflict has left Sudan’s very existence in jeopardy.

Cameron Hudson, an analyst on African peace and security issues, emphasizes the urgent need for international attention to Sudan’s plight, as the country faces an unprecedented threat to its stability.

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