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Sudan’s civil war takes toll on civilians as RSF seizes Wad Madani

With over 300,000 people fleeing Gezira, once considered a safe haven, the eight-month-long civil war in Sudan has taken a toll on civilian populations.

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Sudan’s civil war takes toll on civilians as RSF seizes Wad Madani

Story from Fatima Adamu, Abuja.

Sudan’s army chief, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, has publicly criticized what he deemed “negligence” among commanders following the capture of the strategic city of Wad Madani by a rival paramilitary group, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

The swift fall of Wad Madani, the capital of Gezira state, had raised questions about the military’s preparedness and sparked criticism for its perceived lack of resistance.

With over 300,000 people fleeing Gezira, once considered a safe haven, the eight-month-long civil war in Sudan has taken a toll on civilian populations.

General Burhan, addressing the issue, pledged accountability, stating, “We will hold every negligent commander accountable. Those who were responsible for this withdrawal will also be held accountable without leniency.”

The army’s “surprise withdrawal” from Wad Madani has prompted an internal investigation, seeking to unravel the circumstances that allowed the RSF to seize control. While the RSF claims dominance over the entire Gezira state, independent verification remains challenging. Aid workers in neighbouring areas are withdrawing cautiously, anticipating potential escalation of the conflict.

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The RSF, engaged in a prolonged battle with the army since April, reportedly commands nearly 70% of Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, and exerts control over most of the western Darfur region.

The mass exodus of hundreds of thousands from vulnerable areas like Khartoum to Gezira and Wad Madani underscores the humanitarian crisis, with civilians caught in the crossfire.

Elsadig Elnour, Director of Islamic Relief Sudan, witnessed the chaos in Wad Madani during the conflict’s eruption, describing a sense of panic among civilians.

He noted, “Already they’re not recovered from the trauma they had in Khartoum, and again they’ve started to move to other places in Sudan. They don’t know where to settle and who will provide assistance to them.”

Beyond displacing populations, Wad Madani had served as a vital hub for aid operations, replacing Khartoum at the onset of the conflict.

However, with the RSF now in control, numerous aid groups have relocated, leaving the displaced populace grappling with uncertainty and further complicating relief efforts in the region.

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