Over 55,000 flee Sudan town as RSF battles army: UNTue, 02 Jul 2024 19:31:38 GMT

More than 55,000 people have fled Sinja, the capital of Sennar state in southeastern Sudan, as fighting rages between paramilitary forces and the regular army, the UN humanitarian office OCHA has said.The report came after the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) said on Saturday they had taken Sinja, where witnesses described intense fighting and civilians in panic attempting to escape.”Over 55,400 people flee Sinja Town as conflict between the Sudanese Armed Forces and Rapid Support Forces spreads to the town,” OCHA said Monday on social media platform X.”People fleeing Sinja town have arrived in Gedaref, Blue Nile, White Nile, and Kassala states,” it said.OCHA said aid groups in Gedaref, near Sudan’s eastern border with Ethiopia, “have started planning for the arrival” of those fleeing Sennar.But Gedaref is already hosting more than 600,000 people, according to the United Nations.OCHA, citing media reports quoting local sources, said armed men “reportedly including members of the RSF, have ransacked and looted homes and shops and occupied government buildings” in Sinja.Meanwhile members of local councils had entered the town of El-Suki in Sennar state.Sennar state is already home to more than one million displaced Sudanese. It connects central Sudan to the army-controlled southeast.Sudan has been gripped by war since April 2023, when fighting erupted between forces loyal to army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and the RSF led by his former deputy Mohamed Hamdan Daglo.The conflict in the country of 48 million has killed tens of thousands, displaced millions and triggered one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.The latest RSF breakthrough means the paramilitaries are tightening the noose around Port Sudan on the Red Sea, where the army, government and UN agencies are now based.The RSF controls most of the capital Khartoum, Al-Jazira state in the centre of the country, the vast western region of Darfur and much of Kordofan to the south.Witnesses on Tuesday said there was renewed fighting in Omdurman, Khartoum’s twin city, where machinegun fire could be heard.Sudan’s army confirmed the fighting on Facebook, saying its forces had destroyed several RSF combat vehicles and killed an unspecified number of fighters.