Civilians fleeing fighting between two rival generals in Sudan fled to neighboring countries on Monday, raising concerns of a humanitarian crisis spreading to places already wracked by conflict, hunger and severe economic hardship.
Heavy shelling, shelling and airstrikes have rocked Sudan for 10 days, prompting foreign countries to begin evacuating diplomatic staff and civilians over the weekend. Aid workers said this has driven thousands of Sudanese and others across the borders into Chad, Egypt and South Sudan.
The massive movement of people threatens to overwhelm Sudan’s neighbours, some of which already host large numbers of refugees and internally displaced people. Sudan, a country of 45 million people and the third largest by area in Africa, is surrounded by seven countries beset by poverty and instability.
seen in the last few years civil war in Ethiopia, Hunger, Flood and Ethnic Fighting in South Sudan, And coup in chad,
“The humanitarian impact of this crisis is going to be almost unimaginable,” said Faith Kasina, regional spokeswoman for the UN refugee agency. “The worst-case scenario is unfolding right before our eyes.”
tried again and again to broker a truce The clashes between the two rival forces – the army and the Rapid Support Force, a paramilitary unit – have failed.
In the latest effort, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken announced late Monday, Sudan time, that the two sides had agreed to a nationwide ceasefire for three days. He said the United States would work with others on the peace process. The Rapid Support Force soon announced on Twitter that they had agreed to a three-day ceasefire, but there has yet been a response from the military.
According to the World Health Organisation, the fighting has killed more than 400 people in Sudan and injured 3,700 others. The conflicts have left countless people in the country without food, water or electricity. Several hospitals in the capital Khartoum have closed and several humanitarian organizations have said their warehouses and offices have been looted.
According to the International Organization for Migration, a UN agency, some 3,000 people had arrived in South Sudan’s Renk town as of Monday, on Sudan’s southern border. Most of them were South Sudanese fleeing home from Khartoum in cars and on the backs of trucks, carrying whatever they could on the 280-mile journey south.
“The people who get out first are the people who have the means,” said Pieter Van der Ouwert, South Sudan’s representative for the Migrant Organization. “We are preparing for more vulnerable people to come in the coming days and weeks.”
South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation, is grappling with its own problems, notably stemming from a years-long civil war that has devastated the economy, killed more than 400,000 people and displaced 4.3 million others Happened. Nearly three-quarters of the population, or more than nine million people, are in need of humanitarian assistance, according to the International Organization for Migration.
At Sudan’s northern land border, dozens of buses ferried people fleeing fighting on Monday to Egypt, where they were met by Sudanese relatives.
Hundreds of families are also fleeing to smaller cities and towns in the eastern and southern parts of Sudan, according to relatives and aid workers, and some are considering crossing into Ethiopia – which is still reeling from a two-year civil war in northern Tigray. recovering. area that was Calmed down only last November.
Abdirahman Isaac Shanga, a postgraduate student at the International University of Africa in Khartoum, took a half-day bus ride to reach the Sudanese city of Kadrif, and is on his way to Ethiopia. He said members of the paramilitary force barged into his hostel on Friday, took away the little food he had kept, ordered the students to vacate their rooms and began to take charge.
Mr. Shangha, 26, from Somalia, said, “Our bedrooms have become a battlefield. “Ethiopia has its challenges but it is safer to be somewhere now than in Khartoum.”
overseas started evacuating diplomatic staff in weekend airlifts from Sudan, and by car in long convoys to Egypt or a port on the Red Sea. But they have left a pool of resentment among some Sudanese, who say they feel abandoned and angry that international diplomacy failed to stop the military rivalries from turning into fighting.
Removals of foreign nationals continued on Monday, with the EU evacuating 21 diplomatic staff and “more than 1,000 citizens”, according to the bloc’s top diplomat. France said it had closed its embassy in Khartoum. Djibouti, Kenya, Nigeria, Brazil and South Africa announced plans to evacuate their citizens.
Mr Blinken said on Monday that “dozens” of US citizens in Sudan have told the US government they want to leave. Mr Blinken said the State Department was providing them with advice and guidance, but still had no plans to offer them transport because it was too dangerous.
There are an estimated 16,000 Americans in Sudan, many of whom are dual citizens.
Complicating matters further, Sudan has been hosting approximately 1.1 million refugees and asylum seekers, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency. Most of them are from South Sudan, a country that broke away from Sudan in 2011 and has since been ravaged by civil war. Sudan is also home to refugees from conflict and autocratic rule in countries such as Eritrea, Ethiopia and Syria.
For many of those who had just begun picking up the pieces of their lives in Sudan by opening small businesses and otherwise putting down temporary roots, any hope of regaining a stable existence now again hangs in the balance. Has been.
When fighting broke out in Khartoum, pockets of violence also flared up in the western region of Darfur, Sudan.
It sent 20,000 people – mostly women and children – fleeing to neighboring Chad, which is already home to more than 400,000 Sudanese refugees. According to the United Nations Refugee Agency,
UN refugee agency spokeswoman Eugene Bunin said many of those arriving in eastern Chad walked with little more than clothes and a pair of shoes for a day.
Some have joined their relatives in the already sprawling camps, which lack resources, he said. But many new arrivals preferred to sleep in open areas close to the border and wait for when it was safe to return.
South Sudan, one of the world’s poorest countries, is bracing for a devastating economic blow. While the majority of South Sudanese living in Sudan are refugees, the rest are expatriates who usually join their families back home. Fighting can disrupt the flow of money and limit cross-border trade.
The IOM’s Mr van der Ouwert said markets in the north of South Sudan, filled with goods brought in from Sudan, already have little to offer as the fighting disrupts the supply chain. And the South Sudanese pound has begun to lose value.
“We don’t want to get into a situation where we have to deprive the people of South Sudan who also need it,” said Mr van der Ouvert of the IOM. “Difficult decisions have to be made.”
Even as some people have found a way to leave Sudan’s most dangerous areas, many remain stranded in Khartoum, where the conflict is most intense.
Javid Abdelmoneim, who lives in Malawi, said his father, an 80-year-old British national living in Khartoum, had rejected offers from relatives to leave the city after he said he had received a promise from the British embassy that he would be evacuated. done.
But the British government only evacuated its diplomatic staff on Sunday, a move Mr Abdelmoneim said he and his family had learned about on Twitter. The government said on Monday it was using “all diplomatic channels” to evacuate British nationals.
Mr. Abdelmoneim said he was now trying to contact two uncles to take his father out of Khartoum with them, but that phone and internet networks were bad.
“My only hope is that we will somehow reach our relatives and they will get my father out,” Mr. Abdelmoneim said in tears.
Matina Stavis-GridneffHajira Hakim, continuously, Farnaz Fashihi, Haweda Saad, elian peltier, andre spiggeriol, patrick kingsley And Michael Crowley Contributed reporting.