Residents panic after RSF seized an army garrison in Sudan

Darfur gunmen (File photo: Albert Gonzalez Farran / UNAMID)

Fear has gripped residents of El Fasher, the capital of Sudan’s North Darfur State, after the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) took control of the Um Keddada army garrison on Tuesday this week.

Um Keddada is located about 200 kilometres east of El Fasher.

On Wednesday, the paramilitary group Rapid Support Forces announced via X (formerly Twitter) that it had taken control of the 24th Infantry Brigade in Um Keddada. The group also said it was planning to attack the 6th Infantry Division in El Fasher.

Speaking to Radio Tamazuj on Thursday, several residents in El Fasher town said they have been living in palpable fear for days after the army withdrew from the 24th Infantry Brigade in Um Keddada.

 Asmaa Al-Nur, a resident of El Fasher who fled to the Mallit area, said the city has been witnessing a mass exodus to Mallit and other places for fear of expected battles between the army and the Rapid Support forces in El Fasher.

Asmaa pointed out that she has fled El Fasher and sought refuge in Mallit town, which lies 60 kilometres north of El Fasher.

“Recently, bombs fell on the neighbourhoods, forcing a large number of citizens to flee to Mallit, Al-Koma and Umm Keddada. Some schools have been opened to host some of the displaced people scattered in the market and the streets,” she explained.

Meanwhile, El Fadil Abdullah, a resident of El Fasher, said they were living in fear and tension and decided to restrict movements within neighbourhoods and public places. Abdullah pointed out that he had evacuated his family to “save their lives from danger.”

The conflict, which began in mid-April, has led to the internal displacement of 4.5 million people within Sudan. At the same time, 1.2 million have fled to neighbouring countries such as Chad, Egypt, South Sudan, Ethiopia, and the Central African Republic (CAR). A majority of the refugees are women and children.

The Darfur region, which has seen recent escalations in violence, has witnessed thousands of people struggling to find shelter, with many forced to sleep under trees by the roadside with inadequate access to necessities.

UNHCR Director of External Relations, Dominique Hyde, expressed her deep concern at a press briefing held at the Palais des Nations in Geneva on Tuesday.

She stated, “The war that erupted without warning turned previously peaceful Sudanese homes into cemeteries. Now, fighting is growing in scope and brutality, affecting the people of Sudan, and the world is scandalously silent, though violations of international humanitarian law persist with impunity”.


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