Residents of Sudan's South Darfur state fear that the ongoing fighting between the army and the Rapid Support Forces may reignite the conflict in the sprawling desert region, which has already tasted the bitterness of war for the past two decades.
Darfur has been a battleground between the military and the paramilitary RSF since the conflict began and on April 16, fighting erupted between armed men in Nyala, the state's capital.
The war between Sudan's generals is having increasingly severe consequences for civilians, with a doubling over the past week of the number uprooted from their homes, the United Nations said on Tuesday.
It led to a fire that ripped through the city's main market, destroying stalls and merchandise.
Residents fear the fighting is dragging in tribal militias, tapping into longtime hatreds between the region’s two main communities - one that identifies as Arab, the other as East or Central African.
“As the people of Nyala city, we have been affected by a war that we have nothing to do with. As a result of this war, Sudan has been damaged and the Sudanese people have been affected in ways that we are not aware of. Generals are fighting for power, while the Sudanese people are suffering and displaced." explained Adam Hussein, resident.
“On April 16th, at 5 am, an incident (fire) occurred, and firefighters were present near the market but did not come to extinguish the fire. Up to this moment, the fire is still burning, and we do not understand what is happening. People have been severely affected. Several citizens who were shopping at the market, including a vendor who keeps shedding tears when he sees the market in this condition, have been impacted.” he added.
In the early 2000s, African tribes in Darfur that had long complained of discrimination rebelled against the government, which responded with a military campaign that the International Criminal Court later said amounted to genocide.
State-backed Arab militias known as the Janjaweed were accused of widespread killings, rapes and other atrocities.
The Janjaweed later evolved into the Rapid Support Forces paramilitary group, known as the RSF, which is currently at war with the Sudanese military.