Sudan conflict: Hundreds of thousands flee al Jazira safe-haven – UN

Displaced people fleeing from Wad Madani in Sudan's Jazira state arrive in Gedaref in the country's east.
Image caption,At least 250,000 have fled Wad Madani since Friday, the UN has said

At least 250,000 people have fled fighting in a Sudanese state once seen as a safe haven for those escaping the civil war, the UN said.

The paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have advanced into the city of Wad Madani, in al Jazira state.

For months, both places have housed large numbers seeking safety from fighting in the capital, Khartoum.

People in Wad Madani, south-east of Khartoum, are “scattering in different directions”, an aid worker said.

“People are fleeing with nothing more than the clothes on their back with nowhere really to turn to, to go to,” Will Carter, the Norwegian Refugee Council’s country director for Sudan told the BBC’s Newsday programme.

A doctor from Wad Madani, in the process of leaving the city with his family, told the BBC by text: “We are looking for a safe place. None of the Wad Madani citizens will be able to talk to you now.

“Imagine how it feels when you don’t have any place to go, when all your years, your work, your glory, is gone within seconds. It is hard to speak.”

Residents of the city said the RSF – who are fighting the army – had attacked a hospital and had taken over a military base.

There is international concern that the war – which began in April – is spreading.

Over the weekend, the US State Department called on the RSF to cease its advance on Wad Madani, which is also a major aid hub.

Washington said the group’s actions were inconsistent with its stated aim of protecting Sudanese civilians.

Elsewhere, Unicef’s Sudan director, who was recently in Wad Madani, said: “I’ve heard bone-chilling stories from children and women of their harrowing journeys from Darfur and Khartoum into Madani city. That was last week.”

Mandeep O’Brien told the BBC: “You can imagine now these very same children and women are being forced to flee a second time, and probably for some a third time… it has been very emotional, very traumatic, especially for the children.”

There are also reports of renewed fighting in the city of Nyala in Sudan’s western Darfur region.

The RSF and the army had shared power with civilians after the 2019 overthrow of former strongman Omar al-Bashir, before staging a coup together in 2021.

War between the two sides erupted in April this year following disagreement over an internationally backed political transition plan.

The conflict has displaced more than seven million people, left Khartoum in ruins, caused a humanitarian crisis and triggered ethnically driven killings in Darfur.

People displaced by the conflict in Sudan ride on the back of a truck moving along a road in Wad Madani, the capital of al-Jazirah state
Image caption,People have used various forms of transport to flee Wad Madani

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