Welcome to Africanews

Please select your experience

Watch Live



Sudan: UN warns on possible ethnic conflict amid war

Smoke rises over Khartoum, Sudan, on 8 June 2023, as fighting between the Sudanese army and the RSF continues.   -  
Copyright © africanews
AP/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.


The conflict in Sudan is taking an ethnic turn in Darfur, the UN said on Tuesday, at a time when the number of people who have fled the fighting abroad exceeds 560,000 and the number of displaced persons in the country is close to two million.

"560,000 people in just over two months is a huge number," Raouf Mazou, UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Operations, told reporters in Geneva.

The war that broke out on April 15th between the Sudanese Armed Forces led by General Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Al-Burhane and the Rapid Support Forces of General Mohammed Hamdan Daglo, aka "Hemetti," soon spilled over into Darfur, where the latter comes from.

The fighting quickly turned into a conflict between the Janjaweed Arab militias massively supported by the RSF and the so-called "African," i.e., non-Arab communities such as the Masalit who have formed self-defence groups. The latter makeup most victims of the violence.

"The situation in Darfur is probably the one that concerns us most", said Mr Mazou, explaining that a growing number of refugees fleeing to Chad "arrive with injuries".

The roots of the conflict in Darfur have both regional and local dimensions. The region borders Libya and Chad to the west, which has had a destabilising effect on it.

"The weight of refugees arriving in countries can, in some cases, frighten governments. So we must always remind and ask countries of asylum to continue to keep their borders open, but we must also ensure that they have the means to provide humanitarian assistance and sometimes also development needs", he added.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is increasingly alarmed by the growing humanitarian needs of people affected by the crisis in Sudan, as delivery of aid remains severely restricted by insecurity and a lack of access and funding.

Fighting continues to rage and is gaining ground in Darfur, a vast region in western Sudan from which refugees continue to flee and which was already ravaged by a civil war in the 2000s.

Until now, the UNHCR estimated that these deadly clashes would result in a million refugees in six months.

While the UN refugee agency estimated that 100,000 people would arrive in Chad in six months, this figure is now estimated at 245,000, he explained.

However, the UNHCR has not yet updated all its projections for the region.

View more