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Sudan: Over 1 million refugees may flee conflict by October

June 28, 2023

According to the UN refugee agency UNHCR, Arab militias are attacking Black people in Darfur. Because of this, the number of refugees fleeing the Sudan conflict is now set to exceed initial projections.

Burning buildings in Darfur
The conflict in Sudan has spread to al-Fasher and other cities in DarfurImage: Stringer/IMAGESLIVE via ZUMA Press Wire/picture alliance

More than 1 million refugees are expected to flee the conflict in Sudan by October, the United Nations said on Tuesday, surpassing previous projections.

Already, nearly 600,000 people have fled to neighboring countries like Egypt, Chad, South Sudan and the Central African Republic.

But the civil war has once again taken on an ethnic dimension in Darfur, where local rights groups and the UN say that the Rapid Support Forces paramilitary (RSF) and other ethnic Arab militias are targeting non-Arab tribes

"Unfortunately, looking at the trends, looking at the situation in Darfur, we're likely to go beyond 1 million," said Raouf Mazou, an assistant high commissioner for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Dafur ethnic conflict reemerging

In 2003, the Sudanese government under Omar al-Bashir and Arab militias like the Janjaweed carried out a genocide against the Black tribes of Darfur.

Many Janjaweed fighters would later go on to join the RSF.

Mazou said that "the ethnic dimension that we had observed in the past is unfortunately coming back."

This has compounded the suffering already faced by Sudanese people caught in the fighting nationwide.

"According to reports from colleagues on the ground, the conflict has reached alarming levels, making it virtually impossible to deliver life-saving aid to the affected populations," Mazou said.

What's the latest in Sudan?

The fighting between Sudan's military under Abdel-Fattah Burhan and the RSF paramilitary under Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, more commonly known as Hemedti, has dragged on for 10 weeks.

Both Burhan and Dagalo separately declared a truce to mark the beginning of Eid al-Adha this week.

Dagalo said the truce would last both Tuesday and Wednesday, while Burhan said on television that a "unilateral cease-fire" would take place on Wednesday.

However, both sides have routinely ignored cease-fires in the past.

zc/wd (Reuters, AP, AFP)