Sudan death toll crosses 2,000 as clashes continue for 3rd month
The death toll from Sudan's devastating war surged passed 2,000 as clashes across the country raged on for a third month Friday, News.Az reports citing AFP.
Since April 15, the regular army headed by Abdel Fattah al-Burhan has been locked in fighting with paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) commanded by his former deputy Mohamed Hamdan Daglo.
The fighting has driven 2.2 million people from their homes, including 528,000 who have fled to neighboring countries, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
"In our worst expectations, we didn't see this war dragging on for this long," said Mohamad al-Hassan Othman, one of more than a million civilians who have fled heavy fighting in the capital Khartoum.
Everything in "our life has changed," he told AFP. "We don't know whether we'll be back home or need to start a new life."
The death toll has risen above 2,000, according to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project's latest figures, which cover fighting until June 9.
In the long-troubled West Darfur state, the violence claimed the life of Gov. Khamis Abdullah Abakar, hours after he made remarks critical of the paramilitaries in a telephone interview with a Saudi TV channel.
The United Nations said "compelling eyewitness accounts attribute this act to Arab militias and the RSF," while the Darfur Lawyers Association condemned the act of "barbarism, brutality and cruelty."
Burhan accused his paramilitary foes of the "treacherous attack." The RSF denied responsibility and said it condemned Abakar's "assassination in cold blood."
Sudan analyst Kholood Khair of the Khartoum-based think tank Confluence Advisory said the "heinous assassination" was meant "to silence his highlighting of genocide ... in Darfur."
U.N. aid chief Martin Griffiths, meanwhile, warned that the situation in Darfur was "rapidly spiraling into a humanitarian calamity."
"The world cannot allow this to happen. Not again," he said in a statement, describing the reality there as a "living nightmare."
The U.S. State Department also decried the violence in Darfur, calling it "an ominous reminder" of the bloodshed there 20 years ago that left hundreds of thousands of people dead.
"The United States condemns in the strongest terms the ongoing human rights violations and abuses and horrific violence in Sudan, especially reports of widespread sexual violence and killings based on ethnicity in West Darfur by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and allied militias," spokesman Matthew Miller said.
Daglo's RSF has its origins in the Janjaweed militias that former strongman Omar al-Bashir unleashed on ethnic minorities in the region in 2003, drawing charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Miller said up to 1,100 civilians have been killed in West Darfur's capital, El Geneina, alone, while the United Nations is reporting more than 273,000 have been displaced from the region.