UN: The conflict in Sudan forces more than 1.3 million people to be displaced, including about 320 thousand to neighboring countries
CAIRO — Fighting between the Sudanese army and a massive paramilitary force has forced more than 1.3 million people from their homes, the UN migration agency said on Wednesday.
According to the International Organization for Migration, the fighting has forced more than 1 million people to flee their homes to safer areas within Sudan. Some 320,000 others have fled to neighboring Egypt, South Sudan, Chad, Ethiopia, the Central African Republic and Libya.
The fighting erupted on April 15 after several months of escalating tensions between the military led by General Abdel-Fattah Burhan and the Rapid Support Forces commanded by General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo. The conflict has disrupted Sudanese hopes to restore the country’s fragile transition to democracy, which was shattered by a military coup led by two generals in October 2021.
At least 863 civilians have been killed in the conflict, including at least 190 children, and more than 3,530 have been injured, according to the latest figures from the Sudan Doctors Syndicate – which tracks mainly civilian casualties. This also pushed the East African country close to collapse, with the urban areas of the capital, Khartoum, and the neighboring city, Omdurman, turning into battlegrounds.
Egypt hosts the most refugees, with at least 132,360 people, followed by Chad with 80,000 and South Sudan with more than 69,000, the agency added.
Despite the ceasefire agreed this week, sporadic fighting continued in several areas on Wednesday. Residents reported hearing gunshots and explosions in central Khartoum and in areas close to military installations in Omdurman.
The one-week ceasefire brokered by the United States and Saudi Arabia came into effect on Monday evening. It was the latest international effort to deliver humanitarian aid to the conflict-torn country.
A joint statement by the United States and Saudi Arabia late on Tuesday warned that neither the Sudanese army nor rapid support forces had adhered to the short-term ceasefire.
“The Sudanese people continue to suffer as a result of this devastating conflict,” the statement said. He called on both sides to “fully abide by their commitments” and implement a temporary ceasefire to allow for urgent humanitarian assistance.
Earlier on Tuesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned both sides of possible sanctions if the latest ceasefire is not respected.
But on Wednesday, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters in Washington that the ceasefire was largely holding, despite reports of sporadic fires in Khartoum and elsewhere.
“Ultimately, of course, it’s up to the Sudan Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Force to implement this thing.” Kirby said. “Generally, though, it seems to last. I want to warn you, this is early, I mean it only went into effect yesterday afternoon. We’ve seen this movie before. So we are quite pragmatic in our approach.”
The fighting has exacerbated the already dire humanitarian situation in Sudan. According to the UN, the number of people in need of assistance increased by 57% this year and reached 24.7 million people, which is more than half of the country’s population. According to the international organization, they would need $2.6 billion to provide them with much-needed humanitarian aid.
Associated Press writers Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and Aamer Madhani in Washington contributed.