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Sudan crisis flares again

11 January 20240 comments

Up to 300,000 people have been forced to flee Sudan’s second largest city, Wad Madani in Aj Jazirah state, as fighting reignited between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and Rapid Support Forces.

More than half a million men, women and children, had taken refuge in Aj Jazirah state since the start of the crisis in April, according to the UN’s migration agency IOM.

“This is a human tragedy of immense proportions, deepening the country’s already dire humanitarian crisis,” IOM Director General Amy Pope said.

“The intensifying conflict and growing displacement underscore the urgency of a peaceful resolution, the need for a ceasefire and a robust response to avert a wider catastrophe,” she said.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Security Council has expressed grave concern over the escalating violence in Sudan and the deteriorating humanitarian situation.

In a statement, the Council condemned the reported attacks against civilians and the expansion of fighting into areas with large populations of internally displaced persons, refugees, and asylum seekers.

The Council emphasised the ongoing violations of international humanitarian law and human rights abuses, including cases of sexual violence in conflict.

It urged all parties involved in the conflict to exercise restraint and protect civilians and civilian infrastructure in accordance with their obligations under international law, particularly international humanitarian law.

IOM says conflict-displaced people have sought refuge in various neighbouring states, many crossing to South Sudan through the Renk border crossing point.

Given the scarcity of available transport options, many people have reportedly fled on foot and are currently sheltering in open areas, improvised shelters, schools, and within the host community. 

“For over eight months, the people of Sudan have been forced to endure the brutal realities of conflict. Their lives have been shattered, their families torn apart, and their dreams of a peaceful future lie in ruins. Continued violence would further devastate the country and destabilize the region,” Ms Pope said. 

Located 140 kilometres southeast of the conflict-torn capital Khartoum, Wad Madani, sits at the heart of Al Jazirah state, known as Sudan’s agricultural breadbasket. 

IOM says the latest movements will push Sudan’s total displaced population beyond 7.1 million, the world’s largest displacement crisis. More than 1.5 million people have fled to neighbouring countries, a staggering number in a country reeling from conflict, food insecurity and economic collapse.  

“Humanitarian aid in and from Aj Jazirah state, a vital humanitarian hub for humanitarian operations in Sudan, have been suspended, jeopardizing the already fragile delivery of critical aid to over 270,000 people in need within Wad Madani and the displaced populations fleeing the ongoing violence, according to the Sudan Humanitarian Response Plan,” an IOM statement said. 

Sudan is facing one of the largest humanitarian crises in the world, with nearly 25 million people requiring humanitarian assistance and protection.  Access to basic necessities such as food and health care has been severely disrupted.