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Conflict-torn African nation hit by fresh wave of displacement

A new offensive by the Rapid Support Forces in Sudan has sparked an exodus from the state of Sennar

More than 136,000 people have fled the state of Sennar in southwest Sudan, after the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) launched a series of assaults in the region, the UN said on Wednesday. The latest wave of displacement adds to the turmoil from the nearly 15-month civil war in the African nation.   

The RSF launched a fresh campaign on June 24 to capture Sennar, a trading hub, but soon redirected its efforts towards the smaller towns of Sinjah and Al-Dinder. This offensive has triggered a mass exodus of civilians from all three locations, with most seeking refuge in the neighboring states of Gedaref, Blue Nile, and Kassala. 

Social media images showed people of all ages streaming into Blue Nile in a desperate bid to escape the clashes. 

“[The] Conflict in Sinja has significantly exacerbated civilian suffering and increased violations of international humanitarian law,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported. The agency highlighted the risks faced by civilians, who have reported widespread looting of their homes and personal belongings.  

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FILE PHOTO.  Refugees from Sudan sit crowded together in a boat that is supposed to take them from the southern Sudanese border town of Renk on the White Nile to Malakal for further accommodation.
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Before the recent escalation, Sennar, Sinja, and Ad Dinder were already hosting an estimated 286,000 displaced individuals. Most of these had previously fled from Khartoum or Aj Jazirah, meaning that people forced to flee Sennar “may be experiencing secondary or tertiary displacement,” the UN agency added. 

On Wednesday, artillery fire on a livestock market in the city of al-Fashir killed at least 12 people, according to local activists. The city, located in western Sudan, has been the site of ongoing clashes between the RSF, the national army, and various allied armed groups. 

Clashes between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary RSF erupted in mid-April 2023. Since then, an estimated 10 million people have been internally displaced and around 17,000 killed.  

According to the UN, about 25 million people in Sudan, including over 14 million children, are facing hunger and desperately need aid.  

July 05, 2024 at 03:46PM

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