Critical Sudanese City on Brink of Falling to Rebels, Warns US

Critical Sudanese City on Brink of Falling to Rebels, Warns US
AFP More than 15,000 people are estimated to have been killed since the conflict started

The impending possibility of the loss of el-Fasher, a city under siege in western Darfur, to rebel troops has prompted the United States’ representative to Sudan to ring alarm bells. In the western region of Darfur, where the armed forces and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have been at war for the past fourteen months, El-Fasher is the final stronghold that the army controls.

The capture of El-Fasher by certain forces within the RSF is seen by US ambassador Tom Perriello as a way to separate Darfur as a separate state. Perriello stressed that the US firmly rejects any possibility of Darfur being recognized as an autonomous nation, calling such ambitions groundless.

As the humanitarian situation in El-Fasher worsens due to the RSF’s unrelenting attacks, a demand for a truce has been made. More than a million defenseless civilians are under the RSF siege and are about to die of famine, a fact that Perriello brought to light. The bombings have hit hospitals as well, killing people and preventing pregnant women from getting the food and attention they need to have successful pregnancies.

Civilians, even in their homes and medical facilities, have been hit hard by the increasing violence in El-Fasher, which has turned the city from a safe haven for displaced people into a battlefield. One of the few functional medical institutions, the Sayyid Shuada health center, is struggling to cope with the influx of casualties due to a lack of supplies and manpower.

In an effort to bolster the struggling healthcare system, concerned citizens have banded together to conduct non-medical work and collect money for much-needed supplies. Critical facilities like the South Hospital have been attacked by RSF militants, leading to their closure and worsening the healthcare crisis. Nevertheless, the situation is quickly getting worse.

Help groups and doctors have spoken out against what they see as a flagrant disregard for international humanitarian law in the targeting of healthcare facilities and medical staff. Tens of thousands have fled El-Fasher in quest of sanctuary from the ceaseless assault on civilian infrastructure, but they have found little respite in the surrounding regions.

There has been a lot of talk about trying to mediate a truce and de-escalating the violence. While staying alert to the larger difficulties confronting Sudan, Perriello stressed the need of communication and diplomacy in ending the violence in El-Fasher. The humanitarian situation is getting worse, and we need to do something quickly to stop the bloodshed and help the people who are hurting.


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