Sudan facing ‘full-blown catastrophe’ with 800,000 people expected to flee to neighbouring countries, UN warns

People Flee Sudan’s Capital as Fighting Intensifies


More than 800,000 people are expected to flee to neighbouring countries from Sudan as rival groups fighting for control of the country create a “full-blown catastrophe”, the UN said.

Around 73,000 people have crossed borders over the past two weeks, having caused chaos as they scrambled to obtain visas.

“Without a quick resolution of this crisis we will continue to see more people forced to flee in search of safety and basic assistance,” Raouf Mazou, a UN official, told a member-state briefing in Geneva.

“In consultation with all concerned governments and partners we’ve arrived at a planning figure of 815,000 people that may flee into the seven neighbouring countries.”

Fighting has been raging in the northeast African country since the middle of April after a vicious power struggle between the army and paramilitaries called the Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

The army interpreted an RSF move to redeploy members around the country as a threat, which led to an explosion of violence in the capital, Khartoum.

Yesterday air strikes pounded the city in another flagrant violation of a ceasefire designed to enable civilians to seek safety. The fighting has made it impossible for millions of people trapped in the city to flee – but staying put remains equally perilous as medical supplies, food and water run critically low.

Abdalla Sholami (85) a retired businessman from north London, and his wife were down to their last bottle of water a couple of weeks ago after their home was looted by the RSF, The Times reported. Yesterday his granddaughter, Azhar, implied in a tweet that he had been shot dead.

“My grandfather unfortunately got shot & my disabled grandmother who is also diabetic has been alone for 5 days now. We’re still trying to get her out. We have tried everything. Trying my luck here,” she wrote.

Azhar, who lives in New York, said many people had tried to reach them but had been prevented from doing so because of the fighting. British Embassy staff left Khartoum without responding to the family’s request to send the couple water.

“The scale and speed of what is unfolding... is unprecedented,” said Martin Griffiths, the UN’s relief chief.

Britain was due to make another evacuation flight, from Port Sudan, yesterday. It said it had evacuated more than 2,100 people. The Foreign Office told British citizens wishing to leave to arrive at the British evacuation handling centre at the Coral Hotel for processing before noon local time.

General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the Army leader, and General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, the RSF head, have been under pressure to stop their men fighting.

But though they have nominated representatives for talks on monitoring the ceasefire they have agreed, they are also digging in for what could be a protracted battle.