Washington — The death toll from inter-communal clashes in Sudan’s West Darfur state has climbed to 87, with 191 people injured, according to the United Nations.
Thousands have fled the state capital, El Geneina, where fighting has raged for several days between Arab militia and Masalit tribesmen. About 3,300 people fled the neighborhoods of Hay Al Jabal, Al Jamarik, Althawra and Tadamon to nearby mosques and public buildings, the United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said. Some civilians fled to neighboring Chad.
The OCHA statement said urgent medical assistance is needed as hospitals in El Geneina are understaffed and operating under a power blackout, with no running water and shortages of drugs.
Video posted from El Geneina on Monday and Tuesday showed fires burning across the town. Several hospitals were destroyed by rocket-propelled grenades, and one RPG smashed into a U.N. compound. Eyewitnesses said armed militiamen burned down the Abu Zar camp for the internally displaced.
Violence between Arab and Masalit tribes began a few days ago in El Geneina, the capital of West Darfur state
El Geneina is a regional hub for aid delivery and the suspension of humanitarian operations will have repercussions across the state. All humanitarian operations have been suspended until the security situation improves, said OCHA.
At a virtual briefing Tuesday, U.N. spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric praised Sudan’s transitional government for the security measures it has taken to contain the violence in West Darfur state.
Sources in El Geneina said relative calm returned to the town by Tuesday afternoon, although markets remained closed and roads into and out of the city were blocked.
“The secretary-general’s special representative for the country, Volker Perthes, welcomed the decision by the country’s Security and Defense Council to declare a state of emergency to contain the situation in West Darfur,” said Dujarric.
Hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people across the state will be affected by the destruction and massive displacement, said Dujarric.
“Due to the violence, the delivery of aid to West Darfur has been suspended and humanitarian flights have been cancelled, preventing aid from reaching 700,000 human beings. Humanitarian partners have been providing food, health, sanitation and protection to people in and around El Geneina,” said Dujarric.
The United Nations is calling on donors to provide $2 billion to help displaced and vulnerable people in Darfur as well as those in other parts of the country.
Conflict between the Masalit and the Arab communities started in mid-January, soon after the United Nations-African Union peacekeeping mission, UNAMID, withdrew from Darfur.
The January fighting led to the displacement of more than 109,000 people, according to the U.N. Most internally displaced persons are sheltering in schools and health facilities in El Geneina. An estimated 10,000 IDPs are displaced in four villages outside of the town, said the U.N.