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Sudan humanitarian toll rises with no end in sight after 6 months of war

Sudan humanitarian toll rises with no end in sight after 6 months of war
Men sit and lie outside tents and shelters pitched at the Hasahisa Secondary School, which has been made into a make-shift camp to house the internally displaced fleeing violence in war-torn Sudan on July 10, 2023 | Credit | AFP

Six months since civil war broke out in Sudan, there is no sign of respite as political factions dig in and violence escalates.

The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (Acled), a data portal on conflict locations, events and fatalities, says recent months have seen increased political violence in Sudan, with factions initially out of the conflict taking sides.

“Sudan’s conflict marks its sixth month, both the Saf (Sudanese Armed Forces) and RSF (Rapid Support Forces) are intensifying their efforts to gain supremacy, escalating the struggle for critical strategic positions in the country,” Acled said in a situational bulletin this week.

The war began in Khartoum on April 15 but has spread to other areas such as in Darfur and Kordofan.

Launched offensive

Since then, a number of regional initiatives seeking truce have failed as parties broke ceasefire agreements pushed under the Jeddah Initiative, a peace bid by Saudi Arabia and the US.

Other armed groups have joined in the conflict. In September, the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army-North expanded its catchment in Darfur, potentially becoming influential to the war. Other groups have picked sides with Saf and RSF.

Now, humanitarian agencies say the situation has worsened, with the death toll climbing to at least 9,000, according to independent estimates.

Medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) says more people are being displaced or wounded in the violence, stretching the available relief supplies.

“Overwhelming needs continue to outpace the current response in a country with one of the highest numbers of displaced people in the world,” it said.

The country’s health facilities have often fallen victim to the violence. Now just a third of health facilities are operational, according to Care, another charity operating in Sudan.

Traumatized communities

“The ongoing conflict is having a catastrophic impact on already traumatized communities, more so women and children,” said David Macdonald, Care Sudan country director, in a statement.

“Medical centres are facing unprecedented challenges, as supplies are critically low, and this is endangering the health and well-being of the country’s vulnerable populations. This situation is worsened by the difficulties humanitarian workers face in delivering much-needed aid to the health centers.”

More than 5.5 million people have been displaced within Sudan, while another one million have fled to neighboring countries as refugees, UN agencies said.

Sudan’s Health Ministry said last week it was recording outbreaks of cholera, with at least 50 people killed by the bacterial disease out of the initial 1,000 cases detected by last week in Khartoum and eastern parts of the country.

While conflict is concentrated in Khartoum and Omdurman it continues to spread deeper into the country with occasional flare-ups in South Kordofan, areas close to Wad Madani, and South Darfur. Nyala and Zalingei towns remain hotspots of armed conflict between Saf and RSF. The UN appealed to donors to raise $2.57 billion for emergency response in Sudan but had only raised $858.9 million by this week.

Meanwhile, the UN Human Rights Council on Wednesday voted to establish a controversial investigations team into atrocities reported in Sudan, opening a new door for Khartoum’s diplomatic battle to save its image.

The decision came after a narrow vote in which the council passed the resolution despite the entire African membership in the council refusing to endorse it. It passed by 19 votes against 16 No votes and 12 abstentions.

Eritrea, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, Cote d’Ivoire, Morocco and Algeria all joined Sudan to vote No while South Africa, The Gambia, Malawi, Cameroon and Benin abstained. Khartoum was also backed by Qatar and the UAE who rejected the resolution.

Proposed by the UK, the US and Norway, the Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) to Sudan will investigate abuses committed in war.