The armed conflict in Sudan between the military and rival paramilitary groups has killed up to 9,000 people and forced over 5.6 million others to flee their homes in the past six months, the UN said on Sunday.
“Half a year of war has plunged Sudan into one of the worst humanitarian nightmares in recent history,” Martin Griffiths, UN under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, said in a statement, adding that “25 million people are in need of aid.”
Intense fighting broke out in the African nation’s capital, Khartoum, on April 15 after months of tensions between Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) chief General Abdel-Fattah Burhan and the commander of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo.
The fighting has spread to other parts of the Sahel nation, including the already conflict-torn western Darfur region, where Governor Khamis Abdullah Abakar was assassinated in mid-June for allegedly accusing the RSF of genocide.
According to Griffiths, “civilians – particularly in Khartoum, Darfur, and Kordofan – have known no respite from bloodshed and terror for the past six months.”
“Horrific reports of rape and sexual violence continue to emerge, and clashes are increasingly taking place along ethnic lines, particularly in Darfur,” the UN humanitarian chief added.
Last month, the UN and the World Health Organization said that repeated attacks on hospitals and medical teams in Sudan had worsened disease outbreaks and fatalities.
They claimed that between mid-May and September, more than 1,200 children under the age of five died in refugee camps in Sudan’s White Nile state as a result of a lethal combination of a suspected measles outbreak and severe malnutrition. Health facilities have been overwhelmed due to a lack of staff, life-saving medicines, and critical equipment, the UN and WHO added.
On Sunday, Griffiths said at least 45 aid workers had been killed or detained since the conflict began, and that “almost all of them are national staff.”
The UN has urged Sudan’s warring factions to comply with international humanitarian law and to protect civilians, allow aid, and recommit to dialogue to end the conflict.
In August, RSF chief Dagalo expressed a desire to reach a long-term ceasefire agreement with Burhan as part of a strategy to end the conflict and build a “new Sudan.” The RSF proposal was rejected by the army chief, who stated that he would not “make deals with traitors.”
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