16th July 2024
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136,000 flee fighting in Sudan’s Sennar State: UN

Author: Chany Ninrew | Published: Friday, July 5, 2024

People flee Sinja following fighting between army and RSF. (Getty Images).

An estimated 136,000 people have been displaced from different parts of Sennar State in southeastern Sudan following intense fighting between the army and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), the UN migration agency said.

The International Organization for Migration said in its migration displacement matrix that clashes between the powerful military factions continue in the state capital Sinja and have spread to Sennar town.

The UN humanitarian agency OCHA said Sennar, Sinja, and Ad Dinder localities were already hosting about 286,000 people displaced from Khartoum and Aj Jazirah before the recent escalation in clashes.

The agencies say the crisis is taking place at a time when the state governments in Kassala, Gedaref, and Red Sea are reopening schools and relocating displaced persons from schools to other school buildings and gathering sites.

The statement also said the displacement occurs at the start of the rainy season, adding that poor living and sanitation conditions at IDP sites could lead to disease outbreaks.

OCHA said it is coordinating the response with state authorities and humanitarian partners through daily meetings, mapping of stocks, documenting the response and identifying gaps.

“The conflict in Sinja has significantly exacerbated civilian suffering and increased violations of international humanitarian law,” OCHA said.

“Civilians are now facing multiple protection risks and have reported widespread looting of their homes, cars, and personal belongings, reportedly by RSF, amidst the escalating conflict. In addition, shops and local markets have also been looted, leaving civilians without access to essential resources and heightened insecurity.”

The RSF said on 29th June that it took control of Sinja after capturing the 17th Infantry Division from the army hours after junta leader, Gen. Abdel Fatah al-Burhan inspected troops in the front line to boost their morale.

But the army dismissed the allegations that the RSF captured Sinja, adding that its troops are still present in the town and engaged in fighting.

The Sudan war erupted in April 15, 2023, between powerful military commanders, the head of the Sudanese Sovereign Council General Al Burhan, and RSF’s General Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, following a power wrangle.

The conflict in the country of 48 million has killed tens of thousands, displaced millions and triggered one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.

Local sources cited by OCHA said the Sinja Teaching Hospital has been occupied by RSF and patients and staff are allegedly being used as human shields.

It further said loss of access to the hospital has critically hampered medical services and has put civilians—particularly vulnerable groups such as women, children, and the elderly—at increased risk of violence, exploitation, and abuse.

 

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