Violence continues in western Sudan darfur, causing hundreds of deaths and a worsening of the humanitarian crisis. Efforts to reach a ceasefire, including by Saudi Arabia, have failed to achieve a lasting peace between the army and the rebel Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in the East African country.
The Sudan Doctors Union Preliminary Committee said 280 people were killed on Friday and Saturday alone in the western Darfur town of Geneina, with another 180 injured. The clashes occurred between the RSF and “armed groups of citizens of the city.”
“We mourn the martyrs and mourn all the loss of life resulting from the conflict across Sudan,” the committee said in a Facebook post.
Background: fighting between RSF and the Sudanese Armed Forces It started on April 15. The conflict followed tensions between RSF leader General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (known as Hemedti) and Sudan’s de facto ruler Lt. Gen. Abdel Fattah Burhan. Sudan has been plagued by political instability since the ouster of ruler Omar al-Bashir in 2019. A transitional government was later formed, but Burhan later seized power in a 2021 coup. Several ceasefires have failed to end to hostilities.
The Darfur region as a whole experienced a devastating war from 2003 to 2020. Various groups were involved in the conflict, but the Sudanese army and Janjaweed militia largely fought rebel groups under the banner of the Sudan Revolutionary Front. The war had an ethnic dimension, as the military and the Janjaweed are largely Arabized Sudanese, while the rebels were mainly non-Arab Sudanese, such as the Masalit. The RSF grew out of the Janjaweed militia that fought in Darfur.
The fighting in West Darfur predates the current conflict and goes beyond the RSF and the armed forces. Violence between the Arab tribes and the Masalit community has occurred in recent years in West Darfur. Agence France-Presse reported clashes between the two on April 12, just days before the conflict began across Sudan.
The current fighting in Geneina is between the Arab tribes around the city and the Masalits, although the conflict between the armed forces and the RSF gave a “green light” for the armed groups to fight in the city, according to a Khartoum analyst. .
“The conflict is tribal and has been going on for more than 20 years. It is caused by land and resources and is renewed based on political events,” Hatim Auyoub told Al-Monitor.
Reuters also reported on April 21 that clashes broke out in Geneina between Arab nomads and Masalit farmers. The RSF is aligned with the Arab armed groups, while the armed forces support the Masalit.
On Friday, the Sudanese armed forces accused the RSF of shelling civilians in Geneina. On Sunday, RSF alleged that the armed forces shelled residential neighborhoods in the city, according to separate statements on Twitter.
Why it matters: Much of the international media coverage of the conflict in Sudan has focused on the violence in the capital, Khartoum. But Geneina has seen some of the worst fighting in the country. The Norwegian Refugee Council said Monday that nearly 200 people died in the city in April.
Even before the recent outbreak of violence, Geneina was home to some 100,000 displaced people. He humanitarian situation in the city now it is getting worse.
“People continue to be at the mercy of unrelenting violence, and settlements are once again reduced to ashes. The trapped civilians have endured three days of incessant shelling, devastating their homes,” he said in a statement. “Residents of Geneina have been stranded inside the city, unable to escape, cut off from vital medical care and basic necessities. In addition, electricity and network blackouts have seriously hampered communication.”
Geneina is also experiencing widespread looting and destruction of property. As a result, patients and staff have fled the El Geneina University Hospital, supported by Doctors Without Borders. Other pharmacies, international organizations and Health Ministry properties have also been attacked, the organization said on Sunday.
Know more: Ceasefire talks between the armed forces and the RSF were scheduled to take place in Saudi Arabia on Sunday. Fighting continued in Khartoum on Saturday ahead of the talks.