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Sudan paramilitaries say to open 'safe passages' out of key Darfur city

By AFP - May 19,2024 - Last updated at May 19,2024

Children stand outside a tent covered with straw sheets at a camp for people displaced by conflict in Sudan's eastern Gedaref province on May 15, 2024 (AFP photo)

PORT SUDAN, Sudan — Sudan's paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have announced their willingness to open "safe passages" out of the former haven city of El Fasher in Darfur, which has been gripped by fighting for weeks.

The RSF, battling the regular army for more than a year, affirmed in a post on X late Friday "the readiness of its forces to help citizens by opening safe passages to voluntarily leave to other areas of their choosing and to provide protection for them".

El Fasher, the state capital of North Darfur and once a key hub for humanitarian aid where many had gathered for shelter, has been in the grips of fighting as the RSF seeks to control it.

The paramilitaries called on residents of El-Fasher to "avoid conflict areas and areas likely to be targeted by air forces and not to respond to malicious calls to mobilise residents and drag them into the fires of war".

Sudan has been in the throes of conflict for over a year between the regular army led by de facto ruler Abdel Fattah Al Burhan and the RSF led by his former deputy Mohamed Hamdan Daglo.

The conflict has killed as many as 15,000 people in the West Darfur state capital of El Geneina alone, according to United Nations experts.

Medical charity Doctors Without Borders on Wednesday said its hospital in North Darfur had received more than 450 people killed in the fighting since May 10, but noted that the actual death toll was likely much higher.

Also on Wednesday, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator said residents of Sudan were “trapped in an inferno of brutal violence” and increasingly at risk of famine due to the rainy season and blocked aid.

Tens of thousands of people have died and millions have been displaced since the war broke out in April 2023.

The UN on Friday warned it only had 12 percent of the $2.7 billion it sought in funding for Sudan, warning that “famine is closing in”.


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