Old Story, New Horrors

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Sudan’s military-led central government and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a paramilitary force formerly allied with the government, have been waging a civil war for almost five months. Around 4,000 people have died in the fighting, but neither side has been able to vanquish the other. The people of Sudan have suffered as a result.

Violence has displaced four million people, including 1.7 million children within the northeastern African country, according to the United Nations. Around 430,000 people have fled the fighting by crossing through the western Sudanese region of Darfur and Sudan’s border into Chad. Many needed to evade the RSF and other militant groups in Darfur, where some of the worst horrors of the war are occurring today.

“A tragedy is unfolding in Nyala, South Darfur, as fighting continues to rage, with targeted and indiscriminate attacks against civilians reaching catastrophic levels,” warned Doctors Without Borders in a statement. “All roads in and out of the area are effectively cut off by the fighting.”

Refugees who reached Chad attested to the disaster.

“Four of us were wounded,” refugee Souad Ibrahim told Agence France-Presse. “We wandered barefoot around El-Geneina for seven days, moving from one place to another. We had no water and no food. Even though I was seven months pregnant, I had to carry my four-year-old boy on my back and my girl who is six followed on foot.”

CNN described the West Darfur capital of El Geneina as a “hellscape.”

The latest violence evokes the crimes against humanity and genocide that occurred in Darfur two decades ago, argued the Guardian in an editorial. The mass killings, sexual assaults, and the destruction of entire villages are occurring now as they did in the early 2000s. Approximately 300,000 perished in Darfur in that hellish period.

The two rivals in the civil war once worked together, noted the Council on Foreign Relations. Army Gen. Abdel Fattah Burhan became de facto head of state in 2019 when he helped oust former dictator Omar al-Bashir, who had ruled for three decades. RSF Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo supported Burhan but later refused to go along with a plan to integrate the RSF into the central government’s armed forces.

Sudan unfortunately has a long tradition of coups, rebellions, and other sources of instability that has prevented it from developing its economy and civil society, explained the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

This latest war will likely add another chapter to this sad history.

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