Sudan: RSF to open “safe passages” from key Darfur city

safe passages

Sudan’s paramilitary Rapid Support Forces are trying win hearts and minds, depriving the national army of volunteers as the battle for North Darfur rages. The move comes more than a year into the country’s civil war, with famine rising to catastrophic levels.

The RSF announced their intention to open “safe passages” out of the city of Al Fashir in Darfur on May 17th, according to AFP. The former haven has been gripped by fierce fighting in recent weeks.

The RSF announced via X, “the readiness of its forces to help citizens by opening safe passages” and to “provide protection” for residents.

The militants also called on residents of Al Fashir to “avoid conflict areas,” those “likely to be targeted by air forces,” and to ignore “malicious calls” by the regular army to “mobilise residents and drag them into the fires of war.”

Sudan has been in conflict for over a year with its army, led by de facto ruler Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, battling his former deputy Mohamed Hamdan Daglo for control of the country.

READ: US Senate considers sanctions against Sudan RSF leader

The conflict has killed around 15,000 people in West Darfur’s capital, El-Geneina alone, according to UN estimates.

Doctors Without Borders said on May 15th that its hospital in North Darfur had received more than 450 dead and wounded since May 10th but noted that the true death toll was likely much higher.

The same day, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator, Clementine Nkweta-Salami, said the Sudanese people were “trapped in an inferno of violence,” and an increasing risk of famine due to the region’s rainy season and blocked aid shipments.

READ: UN warns of “epic” crisis looming in war-torn Sudan

Tens of thousands of people have died and millions displaced since the war broke out in April 2023, with Reuters reporting 18 million people in Sudan to be facing “high levels of acute food insecurity,” according to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) hunger monitor.

The UN warned on May 17th that it only had 12% of the $2.7 bn it sought for Sudanese aid.

AFP / Reuters


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