Sudan: Kutum Declared Humanitarian Disaster Area, Violence Escalates in South Darfur

Kutum / El Fasher / Um Dafug / Nyala — The North Darfur government has declared Kutum a humanitarian disaster area. Convoys carrying humanitarian aid arrived in El Fasher on Tuesday, aiming to address critical needs in all five states of Darfur. South Darfur experienced heightened clashes in the capital, Nyala, and in Um Dafug.

The North Darfur government declared Kutum, 105 km west of the capital El Fasher, a humanitarian disaster area. The announcement emphasised the urgent need for intervention by humanitarian agencies to provide immediate assistance to the thousands affected in the region.

Governor Nimr Abdelrahman confirmed reports of deaths and kidnappings due to clashes between the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in Kutum. Abbas Youssef, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid in North Darfur, emphasised the critical nature of the situation, stating that “more than 5,000 families in Kutum alone require immediate humanitarian assistance, with an estimated 3,000 families affected in other regions”.

Displaced people from Kutum, seeking refuge at the Ali bin Abu Talib centre in El Fasher, appealed to government authorities and international organisations for essential supplies such as food, water, and medicine. Many of the displaced, including women, children, and youth, endured a gruelling journey on foot from Kutum to El Fasher, fleeing violence characterised by heavy gunfire, physical assault, sexual violence, and widespread looting.

Convoy intercepted

In response to the crisis, a convoy carrying humanitarian aid and medicine to the five states of Darfur was deployed in El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur. Special forces were deployed to ensure the security of the convoy.

On Monday evening, four commercial lorries transporting fruit from Fanga in Jebel Marra to El Fasher were intercepted by a large group of armed men in 12 vehicles, mounted with machine guns, with RSF number plates, Hawa Yagoub told Radio Dabanga. “The gunmen robbed the drivers, their assistants, and passengers of everything they had.” The rest of the convoy arrived in El Fasher on Tuesday morning.

South Darfur clashes

An RSF unit reportedly successfully took control of the Um Dafug military region in South Darfur, on the border with Central African Republic, after a prolonged clash that lasted more than five hours.

Nyala, capital of South Darfur, witnessed clashes between members of the SAF and the RSF on Tuesday. The Grand Market in Nyala was forced to shut down because of light and heavy weapons fire.