Sudan war: RSF enters White Nile state and Sennar

The Rapid Support Forces (RSF), which took control of El Gezira on Monday, entered El Giteina town in neighbouring White Nile state yesterday. Other paramilitary units are advancing to Sennar, south of el Gezira. Residents of neighbouring El Gedaref in eastern Sudan are panicking. International aid organisations call on the warring parties ‘to ensure protection of all civilians’ and warn of a hunger crisis now El Gezira, ‘Sudan’s breadbasket’, has become a battleground.

RSF troops entered El Giteina yesterday, and filmed themselves at a captured base of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) in the town.

Radio Dabanga has been unable to reach residents in El Giteina and neighbouring areas for comment because of the weak communication network.

The Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC) in El Hasaheisa locality that fell into the hands of the RSF on Wednesday, reported widespread plundering of buildings and robberies of people in vehicles at gunpoint.

RSF Commander Mohamed ‘Hemedti’ Dagalo assured the residents of El Gezira in a statement on social media the day before that they “will remain safe, sound, and secure, as the RSF provides protection for all citizens, their money, and their honour”.

Fleeing in panic

About 300,000 people fled El Gezira during the RSF offensive on the state, which ended with its control of the state capital Wad Madani on Tuesday.

According to the Displacement Tracking Matrix Flash Alert of the International Organization for Migration, many people, among them many displaced from Khartoum, fled Wad Madani on foot due to the lack of transportation means. They fled to El Gedaref in the east, and to the south, to Sennar, White Nile state, and Blue Nile state.

According to the latest flash update on El Gezira by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Sudan, there are about 270,000 people in Wad Madani in need of humanitarian assistance.

In El Gedaref, people are in panic, listener Mohamed Yousef told Radio Dabanga. Many people, among them many displaced from Khartoum, have packed their luggage and are seeking refuge in other areas in eastern Sudan, in response to rumours about the RSF approaching the city,

Residents of El Gedaref and the more than 10,000 people who have sought refuge in host communities in the city “are in panic”, he said.

Sennar also appears vulnerable to attack, Sudan War Monitor (SWM) stated this morning. “Sennar garrison is devoid of army presence,” said the Sennar Youth Gathering (a resistance committee), in a social media post.

“If this is true, the only thing preventing the RSF from taking Sennar may be a lack of orders to do so. After its rapid advance, the paramilitary may take a little more time to consolidate its position and plan its next move,” SWM commented.

‘Death trap’

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) announced on Wednesday that it has been forced to temporarily suspend food assistance in parts of El Gezira, because of the insecure situation in the state.

“This is a major setback to humanitarian efforts in the country’s breadbasket, where WFP had been regularly providing aid to over 800,000 people, including many who escaped the fighting in Khartoum,” the WFP statement reads.

Karim Abdelmoneim, WFP Emergency Coordinator for El Gezira commented by saying that “Hundreds of thousands are fleeing on foot, with nowhere to go. We are so worried about those who already lived through the horrors in Khartoum, and now find themselves trapped in Wad Madani with no way out.”

“Sudan’s breadbasket must remain for what it was intended – farming, not fighting. Otherwise, we may see an even more catastrophic hunger crisis as the lean season gets underway in May 2024,” warned Eddie Rowe, WFP representative and country director in Sudan.

The International committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) called on the warring parties “to ensure protection of all civilians and provide safe passage for people trying to reach safety” in a press statement yesterday.

“We fear that Wad Madani, once considered a safe haven for people fleeing extreme violence in Khartoum, is turning into another death trap,” Pierre Dorbes, head of the ICRC delegation in Sudan said.

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