Violent fighting shook Khartoum on Sunday, testifying to the bitter struggle for power between the army and paramilitaries in Sudan, where the spread of disease and malnutrition among displaced children is worrying humanitarian workers.
Residents of the Sudanese capital woke up once again to the sound of “violent fighting with all types of weapons”, one of them told AFP, and of “fighter planes flying overhead”, added another.
The clashes are particularly intense in Khartoum, but also in Darfur, a vast region the size of France bordering Chad, where in addition to the conflict between the military and paramilitaries, tribal fighters, local militias and armed civilians have become involved in the fighting. According to the UN, the fighting has taken on an “ethnic dimension” that could make it a “crime against humanity”.
Since it broke out on 15 April, the conflict has claimed nearly 3,000 lives and displaced 2.8 million people and refugees. The government body responsible for combating violence against women says it has recorded around a hundred sexual assaults, a figure that is no doubt just as underestimated as the number of casualties, given the inability of victims and carers to move around under the bombs.
Rape and displacement
This organisation, which is at the forefront of recording rapes in Sudan, reports “25 sexual assaults in Nyala”, the capital of South Darfur, “21 sexual assaults in El-Geneina”, the capital of East Darfur, and “42 others in Khartoum”.
In Khartoum, “most of the survivors” identified paramilitaries from General Mohamed Hamdane Daglo’s Rapid Support Forces (RSF) as the perpetrators, and in Darfur, “all the survivors accused the RSF”, reports the same source.
Most of the RSF at war with the army led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhane are Janjaweed, Arab militiamen who ravaged Darfur and its non-Arab minorities in the early 2000s on behalf of the dictator Omar al-Bashir, who will be deposed in 2019.
Today, this new war has forced almost 180,000 Darfuris to flee to Chad, according to the UN.
Within Sudan itself, almost 2.2 million people have been displaced. “Hundreds of thousands of people, mainly women and children” are crammed into “nine camps in White Nile State”, which stretches from the south of Khartoum to the border with South Sudan, reports the NGO Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).
“The situation is serious: there are suspected cases of measles, and malnutrition among children is a vital health emergency”, warns the NGO, in one of the poorest countries in the world, where, even before the war, one in three people suffered from hunger.