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Violent Fighters in Darfur Threaten Fragile Peace Despite Sudan Truce

by Joshua Brown
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In Sudan’s Darfur region, armed fighters caused chaos in the city of Genena on Thursday. Residents said the fighters were looting shops and homes and fighting each other. This violence occurred despite a truce that was put in place between two generals in Sudan. The fight between these generals was causing danger to spread around many parts of Sudan – not just Khartoum, the capital city.

The United States and Saudi Arabia made a deal where both sides agreed to stop fighting for 72 hours. This has allowed many people in Sudan to run away to safer places and allowed foreign countries to get their citizens out of there by car, plane or boat.

The war that started on April 15 between the military and a different group of soldiers ended when both groups agreed to an extended ceasefire. This was really good news for Khartoum and its nearby city, Omdurman, which had become streets with lots of fighting. General Abdel Fattah Burhan and General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo decided to extend the peace agreement.

Antony Blinken, who is the U.S. Secretary of State and has spoken with both generals already, said that although the truce wasn’t perfect, it still managed to reduce violence as it has been working for 72 hours now.

The White House wants Americans to leave Sudan in the next 1 or 2 days because the situation there may get worse at any time. They are trying to find ways for people to get out of Sudan safely. Karine Jean-Pierre, Press Secretary of The White House said, “We are doing our best to help American citizens escape from this dangerous place.”

A top American military personnel recently said that the U.S Navy has sent a destroyer in the Red Sea near Sudan and another navy ship called USNS Brunswick is soon going to reach there. Another bigger U.S ship, called Lewis B. Puller, has started moving north from further down south in the Red Sea. However, these ships haven’t been given any particular mission yet like picking up citizens or personnel from there.

The British Foreign Secretary has asked British people to go to the airfield north of Khartoum for rescue flights. He also said that things might get worse in a couple of days. Eight rescue flights have already flown 897 people to Cyprus and more are on the way.

Meanwhile, violence is increasing in Darfur and some areas of Khartoum despite talks of peace. It’s reportedly the worst it has ever been.

For over two weeks, Darfur has been experiencing a lot of fighting between military and paramilitary forces. People who live there said that other militias have joined the fight, causing tension between two main groups in the area: one that considers themselves Arab and another from East or Central Africa.

In the early 2000s, tribes in Darfur that had issues with discrimination started a rebellion against the Khartoum government. To fight this rebellion, the government sent out militias (known as Janjaweed) to cause terrorism and carry out cruel acts such as killings, rapes, etc. Eventually these Janjaweed became known as something called RSF.

On Thursday morning, many people in Genena, a city with around 500,000 people near the Chad border, were chased from their homes by fighters who were wearing uniforms from the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). As tribal fighters also joined in the battle, the situation got more dangerous and chaotic.

Amany, an inhabitant of Genena who wished to keep her family name hidden for safety reasons said: “People are running away as enemies come at them from all directions.”

The situation was very confusing, with different sides fighting each other – these sides included the RSF (Rapid Support Forces) as well as some tribal militias. Some of these militias are friends of the RSF while others are their enemies. The military is keeping out of it by staying in barracks and people living there have to defend themselves. This information was provided by Dr. Salah Tour, who works for a board called the Doctors’ Syndicate located in West Darfur province and is based in Genena city.

The authorities think that many people were killed and hurt in Genena. Most of their medical centers, including the main hospital, have been unable to treat people for days now. The only working hospital is no longer accessible due to the fighting happening there. According to reports, bad guys robbed this main hospital – stealing cars and taking away equipment, plus destroying the blood bank inside it.

Armed people riding motorbikes were spotted across the streets, smashing and looting houses, offices and shops.

Adam Haroun, a West Darfur political activist heard while talking to someone on the phone that this was like a never ending war, with sound of gunshots heard in the background.

In Haroun’s city, the main outdoor market was ruined and government offices were damaged. U.N buildings and the Sudanese Red Crescent headquarters were lit on fire as well. Two big camps from African tribes had also been set ablaze and their people, who were mostly women and children, ran away. Abdel-Shafei Abdalla from a local aid group said this happened.

In some parts of Darfur, like Nyala (the capital of South Darfur), there has been a lot fighting which caused thousands of people to leave their homes. Since April 15th, 512 people have died from this fighting, including both fighters and civilians. The Health Ministry also reported that 4,200 more were injured during this time, and the Doctors’ Syndicate reported that at least 303 civilians were killed and 1,848 were wounded.

Residents in Khartoum reported hearing loud bangs and explosions on Thursday. Warplanes belonging to the military bombed a camp belonging to the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in an upmarket neighbourhood called Kafouri. The RSF confirmed that its camp in the neighbourhood had been bombed.

Lots of people in Sudan are having a really hard time getting food and water, and their power is out. Some organizations that help with emergencies had to stop what they were doing because they’re scared things will get bad again and want to get away. So people are running away as fast as possible.

Over 5,300 Egyptians have been taken away from Sudan, while 14,000 Sudanese are trying to escape the violence by waiting in long bus lines at the border. Additionally, many people are going to other nearby countries or Port Sudan, an area near the Red Sea, so they can take a boat to Saudi Arabia.

Hassan Ali, a Dutch man, made it to Larnaca in Cyprus on a special flight. He had recently been stuck for days in his home city of Khartoum where there was no water or regular electricity.

In most areas he was only allowed to leave home if it was an emergency such as needing food or medicine. People were even seeking shelter in hospitals though many of these places got attacked by both sides fighting against each other.

When talking about people who had to leave their home due to unfortunate circumstances, he said: “They don’t have any money with them. All they can carry is a bag.”

In addition, journalists from different organizations around the world (such as in Cyprus, London, Washington and United Nations) contributed to this report.

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