Tens of Thousands Flee Sudanese Camp After Deadly Raid by Paramilitary Forces

Tens of thousands of people fled their homes in a camp in the Sudanese city of al-Fashir after a raid by Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary troops, activists reported. The RSF is fighting to seize the last army stronghold in the western Darfur region.

RSF troops attacked and looted the vast Abu Shouk camp on Wednesday, resulting in an unknown number of deaths and at least 13 injuries, locals said, more than a year into Sudan’s ongoing war.

Approximately 60% of the more than 100,000 inhabitants fled on Thursday, according to the Coordinating Committee for Refugees and Displaced People, which oversees camps in the region. Fighting continued in other parts of al-Fashir on Friday, locals reported.

The RSF and its allies have been blamed for ethnically driven killings against non-Arab groups and other abuses in West Darfur, accusations they have dismissed. The RSF swept through four other Darfur state capitals last year in a campaign widely condemned by international observers.

There was no immediate comment from the RSF or the army on the latest clashes in al-Fashir, a historic center of power. Both sides have blamed each other for the violence.

The U.N. special adviser on the prevention of genocide, Alice Wairimu Nderitu, warned the U.N. Security Council this week of a risk of genocide, citing allegations that it was already occurring. She stated that civilians in al-Fashir and other parts of Darfur were being targeted based on their identity and skin color.

Abu Shouk is home to survivors of violence in Darfur from two decades ago, when janjaweed militias, precursors to the RSF, fought alongside the Sudanese army and were accused of genocide.

About half a million more people have moved into al-Fashir since the war between the army and the RSF erupted in the capital Khartoum in April 2023, due to tensions over integrating the two forces.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) reported that at least 85 people have died at the only functioning hospital in the south of al-Fashir since May 10. The total number of casualties is likely higher, as civilians in the north, east, and south of the city have struggled to reach medical assistance amid ongoing fighting.

The RSF has accused the army of using human shields and carrying out extensive air strikes, including destroying al-Fashir’s power station.

Reporting by Nafisa Eltahir; Editing by Andrew Heavens.

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