UN: Sudan war has displaced more than 1.3 million people, including 320K to neighboring countries

CAIRO — Fighting between the Sudanese army and a powerful militia has displaced more than 1.3 million people, the UN’s refugee agency said on Wednesday.

The International Organization for Migration says the conflict has forced more than 1 million people to flee their homes to safer areas inside Sudan. About 320,000 others have fled to neighboring countries of Egypt, South Sudan, Chad, Ethiopia, the Central African Republic and Libya.

The war began on April 15 after months of escalating clashes between the army, led by General Abdel-Fattah Burhan, and the Rapid Support Forces led by General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo. The conflict has undermined Sudanese hopes of restoring the country’s fragile transition to democracy, which was derailed by a coup led by the two leaders in October 2021.

The fighting has killed at least 863 people, including at least 190 children, and injured more than 3,530 others, according to the latest figures from the Sudanese Doctors’ Syndicate – which tracks casualties. It has also left East Africa devastated, with urban areas in the capital, Khartoum, and the neighboring city of Omdurman turning into battlefields.

Egypt has the largest number of refugees, with at least 132,360 people, followed by Chad with 80,000 and South Sudan with 69,000, the agency added.

All but one of Sudan’s 18 provinces have been displaced, with Khartoum at the top of the list accounting for nearly 70% of all displaced people, according to the IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix.

Moderate fighting will continue on Wednesday in several areas, although a ceasefire is in place this week. Residents reported hearing gunshots and explosions in the center of Khartoum and areas near the military base in Omdurman.

Both sides in Wednesday’s clash traded charges for violating the curfew.

A week-long ceasefire, brokered by the United States and Saudi Arabia, began on Monday night. It was the latest international effort to push humanitarian aid to the conflict-ridden country.

A joint statement from the US and Saudi Arabia late Tuesday warned that neither the Sudanese military nor the Rapid Support Forces saw a long-term ceasefire.

The document said: “The people of Sudan continue to suffer because of this terrible conflict.” The organization asked both sides to “follow through on their promises and to establish a temporary ceasefire to help people who need immediate assistance.”

Earlier on Tuesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned both sides of possible sanctions if the latest moratorium is not followed.

But on Wednesday, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters in Washington that a ceasefire had been reached, despite reports of fires in Khartoum and elsewhere.

“Ultimately, it is up to the Sudanese military and the Rapid Action Force to achieve this.” Kirby said. “But actually, for the most part, it seems to be working. I want to warn you, it’s early, I mean, it just started working yesterday evening. We’ve seen the film. So, we’re getting pretty good at what we see.”

The fighting has exacerbated the dire situation in Sudan. According to the UN, the number of people in need of assistance this year has increased by 57% to reach 24.7 million people, which is more than half of the country’s population. The international organization says it needs 2.6 billion dollars to help the people who need it the most.

The UN’s special envoy on sexual violence, Pramila Patten, meanwhile, said on Wednesday she was “deeply concerned” by reports of sexual abuse of women.

“There is strong evidence that it is armed groups that have committed sexual violence, including rape, against women and girls,” he said in a statement.

He added that most of the sexual assaults took place in residential areas in Khartoum, or while fleeing fighting in the capital.

Other attacks on women also took place in the western region of Darfur, where sexual violence against women has been reported continuously over the past two decades, he said.

He called for an investigation into the allegations and urged all to take immediate action against the suspects, including suspending or removing them from the public.


Associated Press writers Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and Aamer Madhani in Washington contributed.

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