KHARTOUM (Reuters) – Sudan’s devastating war flared into its third month on Thursday as the killing of a governor marked a new escalation in the western region of Darfur.
Since April 15, the regular army led by Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces led by his former deputy, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, have been locked in a battle that has destroyed entire neighborhoods in the capital, Khartoum.
The fighting quickly spread to the regions, particularly Darfur, and claimed the lives of at least 1,800 people, according to the location of the armed conflict and event data projectThe latest numbers are from last month.
Al-Burhan accused the RSF of killing the governor of West Darfur state, Khamis Abdullah Abkar, in a “treacherous attack” on Wednesday.
Abkar was arrested and later killed after he made remarks critical of the paramilitary groups in a phone interview with a Saudi television channel.
The Darfur Lawyers Association condemned his “assassination” and described it as an act of “barbarity, inhumanity and brutality”.
Nationally, Sudan’s war has caused some 2.2 million people to flee their homes, according to the International Organization for Migration.
The United Nations agency said more than 528,000 of those have sought refuge in neighboring countries.
“In our worst expectations, we have not seen this war continue for so long,” said Mohamed El-Hassan Othman, who fled his home in Khartoum.
“Everything in our lives has changed,” he told AFP. “We don’t know if we are going to go home or if we need to start a new life.”
“We have nothing left,” said Ahmed Taha, a resident of Khartoum. “The country has been completely destroyed.
“Wherever you look, you will see where the bombs and bullets have fallen. Every inch of Sudan is a disaster area.”
US and Saudi mediation efforts have reached a dead end after several cease-fires collapsed in the face of blatant violations by both sides.
25 million people – more than half the population – need aid, according to the United Nations, which says it has received only a fraction of the funding needed.
Saudi Arabia has announced an international pledging conference next week.
Anja Walls of the charity Doctors Without Borders said many of the displaced have lost loved ones and “all their possessions and livelihoods”.
The group, which runs mobile clinics for the displaced in Madani, 200 kilometers (120 miles) southeast of Khartoum, has noted an “alarming increase” in the number of people fleeing the capital.
Despite the risks and obstacles, the latest UN figures indicate that aid has now reached 1.8 million people, and they remain a small fraction of those in need.
“We have been suffering, suffering and suffering from the scourge of this war for two months,” said Suha Abdel Rahman, a resident of Khartoum.
The conflict’s other main battleground, Darfur, was already scarred by a two-decade war that left hundreds of thousands dead and more than two million displaced.
The army said on Wednesday that the “kidnapping and assassination” of Abkar, the governor of West Darfur, is part of the “barbaric crimes” committed by the Rapid Support Forces.
Sudanese analyst Kholoud Khair said the “heinous assassination” was intended to “silence the spotlight on the genocide…in Darfur”.
Kheir, founder of Khartoum-based consultancy Confluence, said in a tweet that it was not clear “what the red lines are anymore” and urged international condemnation “as well as work to protect the people of Darfur and elsewhere”.
Homes and markets were burned to the ground, hospitals and relief facilities looted, and more than 149,000 people were sent to flee to neighboring Chad.
The Umma Party, one of Sudan’s main civil groups, said El Geneina, the capital of West Darfur state, had been turned into a “disaster zone”, and urged international organizations to provide assistance.
The Darfur Lawyers Association described “massacres and ethnic cleansing” in El Geneina, carried out by “cross-border militias supported by the Rapid Support Forces,” which “serve agendas that have nothing to do with the interests of Darfur or Sudan.”
The RSF, led by Dagalo, has its origins in the Janjaweed militias that former leader Omar al-Bashir unleashed on ethnic minorities in the region in 2003, leveling charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
An army official said on Wednesday that the paramilitary forces had begun using drones, which a source in the Rapid Support Forces said they had obtained “from military centers under control”.
Both sources spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
According to a military analyst from the region who also requested anonymity for his own safety, the RSF may have obtained the drones from the weapons manufacturing complex and weapons depots in Yarmouk, which they overran just days after the collapse of US-Saudi-brokered ceasefire talks. .


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