Heavy Fighting Erupts in El Obeid, Sudan as RSF Attacks Army Positions

Violent clashes between Sudanese army and paramilitary forces in El Obeid spark humanitarian crisis, displacing millions and disrupting transition to civilian rule.

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Shivani Chauhan
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Heavy Fighting Erupts in El Obeid, Sudan as RSF Attacks Army Positions

Heavy Fighting Erupts in El Obeid, Sudan as RSF Attacks Army Positions

On April 22, 2024, heavy fighting broke out in El Obeid, Sudan, as the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) launched artillery strikes on Sudanese Army positions. The attacks followed an army offensive on RSF locations the previous evening, resulting in casualties and a critical humanitarian situation in North Kordofan state.

The clashes in El Obeid are part of the ongoing conflict between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) led by Lt Gen Abdel Fattah al Burhan and the RSF headed by Lt Gen Mohammad Hemedti Dagalo. The two forces had previously cooperated since the Darfur conflict in 2003, but disputes arose over the implementation of a framework agreement signed in December 2022, which aimed to transfer power to civilians and return the military to their barracks.

The fighting has intensified tensions and caused widespread destruction, displacement, and atrocities, particularly against non-Arab communities in Darfur. Thousands of residents have fled the town of Wad Ashana on the border between North Kordofan and White Nile states after the RSF attacked the town on Saturday. The war has killed nearly 7,500 people since it began on April 15, with the worst violence concentrated in Khartoum and Darfur.

Why this matters: The conflict has led to a severe humanitarian crisis, with 25 million people, half of Sudan's pre-war population, now requiring humanitarian assistance and 18 million facing acute food insecurity. The UN Secretary-General and the African Union Commission have called for a ceasefire during the holy month of Ramadan to facilitate the dispatch of humanitarian aid and prevent famine.

The fighting has displaced over 4.3 million people within Sudan and an additional 1.2 million across borders. More than half a million people have crossed into South Sudan, which is struggling to accommodate the new arrivals. The journey out of Sudan is rife with danger, with Sudanese soldiers and RSF fighters making it difficult for people to leave the country.

In Khartoum, the fighting has escalated, with warplanes pounding residential areas to try to dislodge the RSF, who have set up bases there. Both sides are exchanging regular artillery fire. The fighting has led to the closure of medical facilities, with the Doctors Without Borders (MSF) charity reporting that its team was attacked while transporting supplies to one of the few remaining hospitals. "The incident has put the continued activities of MSF at the hospital in doubt, and the charity has warned that its presence in the hospital may become untenable if the safety of its staff cannot be guaranteed," MSF stated.

The US and Saudi Arabia brokered a 24-hour ceasefire, but previous truces have been violated. The UN is trying to mobilize the international community to respond to the most urgent humanitarian needs. Around 25 million people, more than half of Sudan's population, require humanitarian assistance due to the ongoing conflict that has claimed the lives of thousands of civilians and disrupted the transition towards civilian rule in the country.

Key Takeaways

  • Heavy fighting broke out in El Obeid, Sudan, between the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and Sudanese Army.
  • The conflict is between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the RSF, who previously cooperated.
  • The fighting has caused a severe humanitarian crisis, with 25 million people needing aid and 18 million facing acute food insecurity.
  • Over 4.3 million people have been displaced within Sudan, and 1.2 million have fled across borders.
  • The UN and international community are trying to respond to the urgent humanitarian needs and broker a ceasefire.