By Charles Igwe
The situation in West Darfur, the western region of Sudan which, together with the capital Khartoum have been the epicentre of the fighting between soldiers of the Sudanese regular army and the militiamen of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) is dramatically worsening.
The heaviest fighting is concentrated in El Geneina, the capital of West Darfur, which has been under siege and constant fire by the RSF since fighting broke out on 15 April.
The conflict has taken on an ethnic dimension, at least in this part of the country, with clashes between members of the Masalit people and Arab tribes (who form the majority of the ranks of the RSF). The fighting between the tribes has claimed numerous civilian lives and led to extensive destruction of infrastructure and buildings. According to witnesses in the city, the militiamen are conducting an ethnic cleansing campaign targeting the non-Arab population.
It is a situation denounced by the UN envoy to Sudan, Volker Perthes.
“As the situation in Darfur continues to deteriorate, I am particularly concerned about the situation in El-Geneina (West Darfur), where the violence has assumed ethnic proportions,” he said in a statement.
Perthes added, “Massive attacks on civilians because of their ethnic origin, allegedly by Arab militias and gunmen wearing RSF uniforms, are deeply worrying and, if true, could constitute crimes against humanity,” he warned.
Another area affected by the fighting is North Kordofan, whose capital, El Obeid, is at the centre of tension between the two parties involved. The Sudanese air force attacked several RSF positions on the western outskirts of the city.
Already at the beginning of hostilities, the city’s Cathedral was hit by rockets. The Bishop of El Obeid, Yunan Tombe Trille Kuku Andali, affirmed that he was staying with the faithful “as long as possible.” He continued, “We hold some services on Sundays and on other occasions if necessary,” he confirmed. According to the Bishop, the situation is dramatic.
“The city is surrounded. People are without water, electricity and internet connection. It’s raining these days and we manage to collect some water. We continue to pray and wait for a sign of peace, in the hope that our leaders can start a serious dialogue”.