Sudan City Grapples with Famine and Conflict: Bracing for Crisis Amid Fear

Surrounded by Fighters and Haunted by Famine, Sudan City Fears Worst

The Sudanese region of Darfur is bracing for the worst as fears of renewed ethnic slaughter surge amidst a looming assault on an embattled city already threatened by famine. The city of El Fasher, the last stronghold of Sudan’s military in Darfur, stands on the precipice of a large-scale massacre, according to warnings from American and United Nations officials. These alarms have been sounded in response to the escalating civil war between Sudan’s military and the Rapid Support Forces (R.S.F.), a potent paramilitary group. This conflict has wreaked havoc across one of Africa’s largest nations, leading to one of the most significant humanitarian crises in recent decades.

El Fasher: The Epicentre of a Looming Disaster

El Fasher, once the capital of the precolonial kingdom of Darfur, is now the focal point of a year-old civil war. Preparations by R.S.F. fighters for an “imminent assault” have intensified, raising concerns among its approximately 1.8 million inhabitants, many of whom are refugees from previous bouts of fighting. The city’s fall would grant the R.S.F. control over a territory spanning about one-third of Sudan, potentially shifting the course of the war and stoking fears of the country’s fragmentation into rival fiefs similar to Libya post-Qaddafi.

City on Edge: Rising Death Toll and Imminent Violence

Recent weeks have seen at least 43 casualties in El Fasher, including women and children. These incidents, resulting from skirmishes and bombings, have instilled fear among residents who dread the impending violence. “Everyone is expecting an attack at any moment,” says Dawalbait Mohamed, an El Fasher resident who fled last year but remains in contact with family members still in the city.

Role of Foreign Powers Inflaming the Conflict

The current crisis has cast a spotlight on foreign powers accused of exacerbating the conflict, particularly the United Arab Emirates. Both Sudan and U.N. officials claim that the Emirates has been funding and arming the R.S.F., allegations that the U.A.E. has consistently denied. Amidst this global diplomatic wrangling and accusations, the Sudanese population continues to suffer.

Humanitarian Crisis Deepens Amidst Obstruction of Aid

As the war escalates and expands, the civilian population is caught in the crossfire, with famine adding to their woes. At the Zamzam camp, south of El Fasher, severe malnutrition is afflicting 40 percent of children between 6 months and 2 years. Yet, both conflicting parties are hindering the delivery of food aid, effectively bringing urgently needed aid to a standstill.

El Fasher Residents Fear the Worst

With escalating tensions, residents of El Fasher are living in dread, fearing a repeat of the violence witnessed in Geneina, where an assault was followed by widespread ethnic violence. Shadia Ibrahim, a radio station technician in El Fasher, shared her fears, saying, “We hope nothing like that happens here.” Ibrahim, along with thousands of other residents, is left cowering in her home as the city braces for the impending assault, the electricity is out, and essential supplies like water and food are becoming increasingly scarce.

As the world watches, Sudan’s Darfur region remains on the brink of catastrophe, caught between escalating ethnic conflict and a deepening famine crisis. The international community, led by the United Nations, faces a race against time to avert a large-scale massacre and humanitarian disaster.