Sudanese civil war (2023–present)

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War in Sudan (2023)
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Sudanese civil war
Part of the Sudanese Civil Wars
A map of Sudan, showing the RSF dominant in the west of the country, the SAF dominant in the east, and the centre split between both sides.
Military situation as of 11 March 2024
  Controlled by Sudanese Armed Forces and allies
  Controlled by Rapid Support Forces
  Controlled by SPLM-N (al-Hilu)
  Controlled by
SLM (al-Nur)
  Controlled by Darfur Joint Force

(Detailed map)

(Engagements)
Date15 April 2023 – present
(1 year, 1 month and 4 weeks)
Location
Status Ongoing
Territorial
changes
Belligerents

Sudan Government of Sudan
Sudanese Armed Forces

Popular Resistance
Popular Defence Forces[1]
SPLM-N (Agar)[2]
SLM (Tambour) (since August 2023)[3]
JEM (since November 2023)[4]
SLM (Minnawi) (since November 2023)[5]
 Ukraine[6]

Rapid Support Forces

non-RSF Janjaweed militias
Tamazuj (since August 2023)

SPLM-N (al-Hilu)[7][8] (since June 2023)


SLM (al-Nur)[9]

Sudanese Communist Party[10]
Commanders and leaders

Shams al-Din Khabbashi
Malik Agar
Mustafa Tambour

Minni Minnawi

Gibril Ibrahim[17]
Hemedti
Abdelrahim Dagalo
Abdel Rahman Jumma

Abdelaziz al-Hilu[7]


Abdul Wahid al-Nur

Muhammad Mukhtar al-Khatib
Strength
110,000–120,000[18] 70,000–150,000[18] Unknown
Casualties and losses
15,000–150,000 killed[19][20]
7,111,788 internally displaced[21]
2,104,826 refugees

A civil war between two rival factions of the military government of Sudan, the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) under Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) under the Janjaweed leader, Hemedti, began during Ramadan on 15 April 2023. Fighting has been concentrated around the capital city of Khartoum and the Darfur region.[22] As of 21 January 2024, at least 13,000[23]–15,000 people had been killed and 33,000 others were injured.[20] As of 3 June 2024, over 7.1 million were internally displaced and more than two million others had fled the country as refugees,[21] and many civilians in Darfur have been reported dead as part of the Masalit massacres.[24]

The war began with attacks by the RSF on government sites as airstrikes, artillery, and gunfire were reported across Sudan. The cities of Khartoum and Omdurman were divided between the two warring factions, with al-Burhan relocating his government to Port Sudan as RSF forces captured most of Khartoum's government buildings. Attempts by international powers to negotiate a ceasefire culminated in the Treaty of Jeddah, which failed to stop the fighting and was ultimately abandoned.[25]

Over the next few months, a stalemate occurred, during which the two sides were then joined by rebel groups who had previously fought against Sudan's government. By mid-November, the

Sudan Liberation Movement officially joined the war in support of the SAF, alongside the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).[3][26] In contrast, the Tamazuj movement joined forces with the RSF, while the Abdelaziz al-Hilu faction of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement–North attacked SAF positions in the south of the country.[7][27][28]

Starting in October 2023, momentum began to swing toward the RSF, as the paramilitary defeated army forces in Darfur and made gains in Khartoum State, Kordofan, and Gezira State. Since February 2024, the SAF has made gains in Omdurman. Further negotiations between the warring sides have so far produced no significant results, while many countries have provided military or political support for either al-Burhan or Hemedti.[29][30]

Background

Sudan has been inhabited since prehistory and has seen many conflicts, with foreign invasions and resistance, ethnic tensions, religious disputes, and disputes over resources throughout antiquity and the middle ages.[31][32] Sudan was conquered by Egypt in 1821, and in 1881 the religious leader Muhammad Ahmad led a nationalist revolt and established an "Islamic and national" Mahdist State in much of the territory of modern Sudan.[33] After Ahmad's death, a British-Egyptian force commanded by Lord Kitchener retook Sudan. It would remain under British control until 1956, when it gained independence and inherited its pre-2011 borders. Sudan has experienced more than 15 military coups[34] and usually been ruled by the military, interspersed with short periods of democratic parliamentary rule.[35][36]

Two civil wars between the central government and the southern regions, which led to the independence of South Sudan in 2011, killed 1.5 million people, and a conflict in the western region of Darfur displaced two million people and killed more than 200,000 others.[37]

War in Darfur and the formation of the RSF

By the turn of the 21st century, Sudan's western Darfur region had endured prolonged instability and social strife due to a combination of racial and ethnic tensions and disputes over land and water. In 2003, this situation erupted into a full-scale rebellion against government rule, against which president and military strongman Omar al-Bashir vowed to use forceful action. The resulting War in Darfur was marked by widespread state-sponsored acts of violence, leading to charges of war crimes and genocide against al-Bashir.[38] The initial phase of the conflict left approximately 300,000 dead and 2.7 million were forcibly displaced; even though the intensity of the violence later declined, the situation in the region remained far from peaceful.[39]

To crush uprisings by non-Arab tribes in the

coup-proofing".[46]

Political transition

In December 2018, protests against al-Bashir's regime began, starting the first phase of the Sudanese Revolution. Eight months of sustained civil disobedience were met with violent repression.[47] In April 2019, the military (including the RSF) ousted al-Bashir in a coup d'état, ending his three decades of rule; the army established the Transitional Military Council, a junta.[43][44][47] Bashir was imprisoned in Khartoum; he was not turned over to the ICC, which had issued warrants for his arrest on charges of war crimes.[48] Protests calling for civilian rule continued; in June 2019, the TMC's security forces, which included both the RSF and the SAF, perpetrated the Khartoum massacre, in which more than a hundred demonstrators were killed[49][41][43][47] and dozens were raped.[41] Hemedti denied orchestrating the attack.[43]

In August 2019, in response to international pressure and mediation by the

elections to be held in 2023.[38][47] In October 2021, the military seized power in a coup led by Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and Hemedti. The Transitional Sovereignty Council was reconstituted as a new military junta led by al-Burhan, monopolizing power and halting Sudan's transition to democracy.[48][50]

Origins of the SPLM-N and the SLM

The

Sudan Liberation Movement (or Army; SLM, SLA, or SLM/A) is a rebel group active in Darfur, primarily composed of members of non-Arab ethnic groups[51] and established in response to their marginalization by the Bashir regime.[52][53] Since 2006, the movement has split into several factions due to disagreements over the Darfur Peace Agreement, with some factions joining the government in Khartoum.[54][55][56] By 2023 the three most prominent factions were the SLM-Minnawi under Minni Minnawi, the SLM-al-Nur under Abdul Wahid al-Nur, and the SLM-Tambour under Mustafa Tambour. The SLM-Minnawi and SLM-Tambour signed the 2020 Juba Peace Agreement, ceasing hostilities and receiving political appointments, but the SLM-al-Nur had refused to sign and kept fighting.[57][58]

The SPLM-N was founded by units of the predominantly South Sudanese

Blue Nile a few months later.[59] In 2017, the SPLM-N split between a faction led by Abdelaziz al-Hilu and one led by Malik Agar, with al-Hilu demanding secularism as a condition for peace while Agar did not agree with this.[60] During the Sudanese Revolution, al-Hilu's faction declared an indefinite unilateral ceasefire.[61] In 2020, a peace agreement was signed between the Sudanese government and Agar's faction,[62] with Agar later joining the Transitional Sovereignty Council in Khartoum. Al-Hilu held out until he agreed to sign a separate peace agreement with the Sudanese government a few months after.[63] Further steps to consolidate the agreement stalled following the 2021 coup, and the al-Hilu faction instead signed an agreement with the SLM-al-Nur and the Sudanese Communist Party, agreeing to co-operate in order to draft a 'revolutionary charter' and remove the military from power.[64]

Prelude

In the months after the 2021 coup the already weak

Islamist officials who had dominated the Omar al-Bashir government. Hemedti saw the appointment of these officials as a signal that al-Burhan was attempting to maintain the dominance of Khartoum's traditional elite over Sudanese politics. This was a danger to the RSF's political position, as said elites were hostile to Hemedti due to his ethnic background as a Darfuri Arab.[66] Hemedti's expression of regret over the October 2021 coup signals a widening divide between him and al-Burhan.[50]

Tensions between the RSF and the SAF began to escalate in February 2023, as the RSF began to recruit members across Sudan.[65] Throughout February and early March the military built up in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum, until a deal was brokered on 11 March and the RSF withdrew.[65][67] As part of this deal negotiations were conducted between the SAF, RSF, and civilian leaders, yet these were delayed and halted by political disagreements.[68] Chief among the disputes was the integration of the RSF into the military: the RSF insisted on a 10-year timetable for its integration into the regular army, while the army demanded integration within two years.[69][70] Other contested issues included the status given to RSF officers in the future hierarchy, and whether RSF forces should be under the command of the army chief rather than Sudan's commander-in-chief, al-Burhan.[71]

On 11 April 2023, RSF forces were deployed near the city of Merowe as well as in Khartoum.[72] Government forces ordered them to leave, and were refused. This led to clashes when RSF forces took control of the Soba military base south of Khartoum.[72] On 13 April, RSF forces began their mobilization, raising fears of a potential rebellion against the junta. The SAF declared the mobilization illegal.[73]

Course

April–May 2023

Battle of Khartoum

On 15 April 2023, the RSF attacked SAF bases across Sudan, including Khartoum and its airport.[69][74] There were clashes at the headquarters of the state broadcaster, Sudan TV, which was later captured by RSF forces.[75] Bridges and roads in Khartoum were closed, and the RSF claimed that all roads heading south of Khartoum were closed.[76] The next day saw a SAF counteroffensive, with the army retaking Merowe Airport alongside the headquarters of Sudan TV and the state radio.[77][78]

The Sudan Civil Aviation Authority closed the country's airspace as fighting began.[79] Telecommunications provider MTN shut down Internet services, and by 23 April there was a near-total Internet outage across Sudan. This was attributed to electricity shortages caused by attacks on the electric grid.[80][81] Sudanese international trade began to break down, with Maersk, one of the largest shipping companies in the world, announcing a pause on new shipments to the country.[82]

With al-Burhan trapped in Khartoum, his deputy Malik Agar became de facto leader of the Sudanese government.[57]

Hemedti directed his forces to capture or kill al-Burhan, and RSF units engaged in pitched and bloody combat with the Republican Guard. Ultimately al-Burhan managed to evade capture or assassination, but his base at the Sudanese Armed Forces Headquarters was eventually placed under RSF siege, rendering him unable to leave Khartoum.[57][83] In an interview with Al Jazeera, Hemedti accused al-Burhan and his commanders of forcing the RSF to start the war by scheming to bring deposed leader Omar al-Bashir back to power.[84] He called for the international community to intervene against al-Burhan, claiming that the RSF was fighting against radical Islamic militants.[85]

Following the first few days of war the SAF brought in reinforcements from the Ethiopian border.

Blue Nile State and in Geneina.[90][91]

By the beginning of May the SAF claimed to have weakened the RSF's combat capabilities and repelled their advances in multiple regions.[92] The Sudanese police deployed its Central Reserve Forces in the streets of Khartoum in support of the SAF, claiming to have arrested several hundred RSF fighters.[93] The SAF announced it was launching an all-out attack on RSF in Khartoum using air strikes and artillery.[94] Air strikes and ground offensives against the RSF over the next few days caused significant damage to infrastructure, but failed to dislodge RSF forces from their positions.[95][96]

Following further threats to his life from Hemedti, al-Burhan gave a public video address from his besieged base at the Army Headquarters, vowing to continue fighting.[97][98] On 19 May, al-Burhan officially removed Hemedti as his deputy in the Transitional Sovereignty Council and replaced him with former rebel leader and council member Malik Agar.[99] With al-Burhan trapped in Khartoum, Agar became de facto leader of the Sudanese government, assuming responsibility for peace negotiations, international visits and the day-to-day running of the country.[57]

Treaty of Jeddah

International attention to the conflict resulted in the

Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths expressed frustration at the lack of commitment from both sides to end the fighting.[103]

The situation remained volatile, with both sides trading blame for attacks on churches,[104] hospitals,[105] and embassies.[106] Casualties mounted, particularly in Geneina, where Arab militias loyal to the RSF were accused of atrocities against non-Arab residents.[107] A temporary ceasefire was signed and faced challenges as fighting persisted in Khartoum, and the agreed-upon ceasefire time saw further violence.[108] Between 28 and 97 people were reportedly killed by the RSF and Arab militias when they attacked the predominantly Masalit town of Misterei in West Darfur on 28 May.[109]

June–September 2023

The RSF took control of the National Museum of Sudan in June.

Continued fighting in Khartoum

As June began, Khartoum witnessed tank battles resulting in casualties and injuries.[110][111] The RSF took control of several important cultural and government buildings, including the National Museum of Sudan and the Yarmouk Military Industrial Complex.[112][113] Acute food insecurity affected a significant portion of Sudan's population.[114]

By July, al-Burhan was still trapped at the Army Headquarters and unable to leave, and in order to break him out the SAF elected to send a column of troops to lift the siege of the base. This force was ambushed by the RSF and defeated, with the paramilitary claiming it had killed hundreds of soldiers and captured 90 vehicles, along with the column's commander.[115]

In response to the escalating violence in Khartoum the SAF increased the intensity of their airstrikes and artillery bombardment, leading to heightened civilian casualties often numbering in the dozens per strike.[116][117][118] Shelling by the RSF also increased in intensity, leading to many civilian casualties in turn.[119][120]

Heavy fighting continued in Khartoum throughout August, with clashes breaking out across the city. The RSF laid siege to the SAF's Armoured Corps base, breaching its defences and taking control of surrounding neighbourhoods.[121][122] The SAF also made offensives, with the RSF-controlled Republican Palace and Yarmouk Complex coming under SAF air bombardment. An offensive was launched against Yarmouk, but this was beaten back after the RSF shipped in reinforcements.[123] One of the few remaining bridges between Khartoum and Khartoum North was also destroyed by the SAF, in an attempt to deny the RSF freedom of movement.[124]

On 24 August a SAF military operation successfully rescued al-Burhan from his besieged base at the Army Headquarters, allowing him to head to Port Sudan and hold a cabinet meeting there.[125][126]

Diplomatic efforts

Ceasefires between the warring parties were announced but often violated, leading to further clashes. The SAF and RSF engaged in mutual blame for incidents, while the Sudanese government took actions against international envoys.[127] The Saudi embassy in Khartoum was attacked, and evacuations from an orphanage were carried out amid the chaos.[128] Amidst the turmoil, Sudan faced diplomatic strains with Egypt, leading to challenges for Sudanese refugees seeking entry.[129][130]

With al-Burhan out of Khartoum for the first time since the start of the war, he was able to fly to Egypt and hold a meeting with the Egyptian President

Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.[131] Following this visit al-Burhan went on a tour of numerous countries, heading to South Sudan, Qatar, Eritrea, Turkey, and Uganda.[132] He then proceeded to New York City as head of the Sudanese delegation to the 78th United Nations General Assembly, where he urged the international community to declare the RSF a terrorist organization.[133][134]

SPLM-N (Al-Hilu) involvement

The

Dalang, the latter coinciding with an attack by the RSF. The SAF claimed to have repelled the attacks,[27][135] while the rebels claimed to have attacked in retaliation for the death of one of their soldiers at the hands of the SAF and vowed to free the region from "military occupation".[61] More than 35,000 were displaced by the fighting.[61] Speculation arose as to whether the attacks were part of an unofficial alliance between al-Hilu and the RSF or an attempt by al-Hilu to strengthen his position in future negotiations concerning his group.[136] Civil society organizations supporting the SPLM-N claimed its operations sought to protect civilians from possible attacks by the RSF.[137]

Al-Hilu's faction launched further offensives in July, moving into South Kordofan and gaining control of several SAF bases.[138][139] In response the SAF brought in artillery and heavily bombarded SPLM-N positions.[138] Further attacks by the group largely petered out after this, with an assault on Kadugli in September being pushed back by the SAF.[140]

Darfur front

In Darfur fighting and bloodshed was particularly fierce around the city of

Masalit population of Geneina, leading to accusations of ethnic cleansing.[142] On 4 August the RSF claimed that it had taken full control over all of Central Darfur.[143]

A United Nations investigation discovered numerous mass graves in Darfur that contained Masalit civilians.[144] The RSF and Arab militias were additionally accused of having killed lawyers, human rights monitors, doctors and non-Arab tribal leaders.[145] The governor of West Darfur, Khamis Abakar, was abducted and killed by armed men in June, hours after accusing the RSF of genocide and calling for international intervention in a TV interview.[146] The SAF, for their part, conducted indiscriminate airstrikes against Darfur that killed many civilians, especially in Nyala.[147]

Tribal and rebel groups in Darfur began to declare allegiance to one or the other of the warring parties. A faction of the Darfur-based

Sudan Liberation Movement led by Mustafa Tambour (SLM-T) joined the conflict in support of the SAF.[3] In contrast the controversial Tamazuj rebel group formally declared its alliance with the RSF, joined by the leaders of seven Arab tribes, including that of Hemedti's.[28][148]

As September arrived both sides made offensives in Darfur. The RSF took control of several towns in

Um Rawaba.[151] Both sides made withdrawals to end the month, with the RSF retreating from Um Rawaba while the SAF withdrew from Tawila.[152][153]

October–December 2023

SAF collapse in Darfur

By the end of November, Al-Fashir was the last of the five state capitals in Darfur under SAF control.

By October, the SAF in Darfur was experiencing acute shortages in supplies due to RSF-imposed sieges, and had failed to utilize its air superiority to stem RSF advances.[154] On 26 October, the RSF captured Nyala, Sudan's fourth-largest city, after seizing control of the SAF's 16th Infantry Division headquarters.[155] The fall of Nyala, a strategic city with an international airport and border connections to Central Africa, allowed the RSF to receive international supplies more easily and concentrate its forces on other Sudanese cities.[156] After Nyala's fall, RSF fighters turned their focus to Zalingei, the capital of Central Darfur. The SAF's 21st Infantry Division, stationed in Zalingei, fled the city without a fight and allowed the RSF to take it over.[157]

In Geneina, reports emerged that tribal elders were attempting to broker the surrender of the SAF garrison in the city to prevent bloodshed.[158] The army rejected the proposal, raising fears of an imminent RSF assault on the city and causing civilians to flee across the border into Chad.[159] The RSF besieged the headquarters of the SAF's 15th Infantry Division in Geneina, giving the garrison a six-hour ultimatum to surrender.[160] The base was captured two days later when the 15th withdrew from the area before fleeing to Chad in haste.[161] Those left behind, numbering in the hundreds, were taken prisoner and paraded in RSF media with signs of abuse.[161] Witnesses later reported of mass atrocities perpetrated by the RSF in the city shortly after its seizure, with a local rebel group claiming up to 2,000 people were massacred in Geneina's satellite town of Ardamata.[162] With Geneina's fall, Ed Daein and Al-Fashir were the last remaining capitals in Darfur under government control, with both cities under heavy RSF pressure.[158][161]

The RSF stormed and plundered the town of

Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (Minnawi), and other smaller rebel factions renounced their neutrality and declared war on the RSF.[167]

Peace negotiations stall

Attempts by other nations and international organisations to negotiate peace had largely been dormant since the failure of the Treaty of Jeddah, but in late October the RSF and SAF met once more in Jeddah to attempt to negotiate peace.[168] This new round of talks was a failure, with neither side willing to commit to a ceasefire. Instead, the warring factions agreed to open channels for humanitarian aid.[169] On 3 December negotiations were indefinitely suspended due to the failure of both the SAF and the RSF to open up aid channels.[170]

With the failure of the talks in Jeddah, the East African Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) hosted a peace summit in early December. Earlier attempts by IGAD to open negotiations had floundered after the SAF had accused Kenyan President William Ruto of supporting the RSF.[171] IGAD's talks appeared to make more progress than the Jeddah negotiations, with Hemedti and al-Burhan agreeing to meet in person at some point in the future.[172]

RSF Crossing of the Nile

The RSF attacked the town of Wad Ashana in North Kordofan on 1 October along a key commercial route.[173][174] In West Kordofan, an uptick in fighting was reported, with the RSF assaulting a "vital" oil field in Baleela, south of Al-Fulah.[175] Geolocated footage showed RSF fighters celebrating around Baleela Airport after allegedly capturing it.[176] The Battle of Khartoum continued with the RSF seizing the town of al-Aylafoun, southeast of the capital, on 6 October. In the process, the paramilitary gained control of key oil infrastructure.[177][178] By late October the RSF controlled most of Khartoum but had failed to seize key military bases, while al-Burhan's government had largely relocated to Port Sudan.[179]

The Shambat Bridge in Khartoum was destroyed on 11 November.[180]

The RSF sought to capitalize on its gains by stepping up attacks on SAF positions in Khartoum and Omdurman. Days of fighting culminated in the destruction of the Shambat Bridge, which connected Khartoum North to Omdurman over the Nile; the bridge's destruction severing a critical RSF supply chain.[180] This effectively cut the RSF off from its forces in Omdurman, giving the SAF a strategic advantage.[181] In an attempt to gain a new crossing over the Nile and supply its forces in Omdurman, the RSF launched an assault on the Jebel Aulia Dam in the village of Jabal Awliya.[182] As Jebel Aulia could not be destroyed without flooding Khartoum, its capture would give the RSF a path over the Nile the SAF could not easily remove. A week-long battle commenced over the dam and its surrounding village, which ended in an RSF victory. The force captured the dam on 20 November, all SAF resistance ceasing in the village the following day.[183][184]

On 5 December, local militias along with RSF soldiers attacked SPLM-N (al-Hilu) forces in the village of Tukma, southeast of Dalang in South Kordofan, resulting in the deaths of 4 people and the destruction of the village.[8] The RSF leadership, not wanting hostilities with the neutral al-Hilu faction to escalate, issued a statement condemning this attack and denouncing it as "tribal violence".[185] On 8 December, the RSF entered Gedaref State for the first time.[185]

Pushing south from their gains around Jebel Aulia and Khartoum, RSF forces began to move into Gezira State on 15 December, advancing toward its capital Wad Madani.[186][187] Elsewhere in Gezira the RSF made major gains, taking control of the city of Rufaa in the state's east and entering the Butana region.[188] After several days of fighting the RSF seized the Hantoob Bridge on Wad Madani's eastern outskirts, crossing the Blue Nile and entering the city.[188] The army put up little resistance in Wad Madani itself, the 1st Division withdrawing from the city as the RSF took over.[189]

The fall of Wad Madani was viewed as a major blow to the SAF, as it dramatically widened the frontline and opened up large parts of the country to potential RSF offensives.[189] The city's fall allowed the RSF to capture most of Gezira and to make inroads in White Nile State, capturing the town of El Geteina.[190] Within a few days RSF fighters had advanced to within 25 km of Sennar, the largest city in Sennar State.[190] Over the next few weeks RSF forces ventured into rural areas of Al Qadarif State and River Nile State, without establishing a significant presence. In Sennar State the RSF made some further minor advances, but had not attacked Sennar City by the year's end.[191]

Amid the deteriorating situation, the SAF was reported to be arming civilians while government officials in the east called on the population to mobilize.[192] Al-Burhan gave a widely promoted public speech to soldiers in Red Sea State, promising to arm civilian militias to fight the RSF and to fight against 'colonialism', which was viewed by observers as a reference to the United Arab Emirates' support of the RSF.[193]

January–April 2024

Hemedti travels abroad

Following the fall of Wad Madani efforts by IGAD to negotiate a ceasefire made progress, as the SAF's weakened position made them more eager to enter talks. Whereas previously opposition from Islamist political groups to negotiation had prevented al-Burhan from committing to a specific date, now both he and Hemedti agreed to meet on 28 December.[189][194] A day before the meeting was due, the Sudanese foreign ministry claimed that they had been contacted by IGAD informing them that the meeting was postponed citing 'technical issues'.[195]

Instead the RSF leader went on a diplomatic tour, travelling on a chartered Emirati jet and meeting with several African national leaders.[196] One visit that was particularly promoted was his visit to Rwanda, where he met with Rwandan President Paul Kagame, visited the Kigali Genocide Memorial and spoke of Rwanda's recovery from the Rwandan genocide as a model for Sudan to follow.[193] On the tour Hemedti also met with former Prime Minister Hamdok and his Taqaddum organisation in Addis Ababa, with the RSF agreeing in a declaration negotiated with the Taqaddum to release political prisoners, open up humanitarian aid corridors and negotiate further with the SAF.[197] This tour was regarded by observers as an attempt by Hemedti to portray himself as the leader of Sudan and improve his international image, as his reputation had been severely damaged since the fall of Wad Madani due to large-scale looting by RSF fighters.[196]

On 5 January, al-Burhan vowed to continue the war against the RSF and rejected the latest peace efforts saying "No reconciliation", citing the RSF "committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in West Darfur and the rest of Sudan."[198]

On 14 January, both Hemedti and Burhan received official invitations from IGAD to attend its upcoming summit on 18 January. Hemedti took to social media to confirm his attendance and show commitment for peace,[199] while Sudan's military junta issued a statement refusing to attend the summit saying that IGAD did not give sufficient reason as to why the summit on 28 December was delayed. On 16 January Sudan suspended its contacts with IGAD accusing IGAD of violating Sudan's sovereignty, setting a dangerous precedent and giving the RSF legitimacy by inviting it to a meeting that will be attended by member heads of state and government. Burhan also accused African leaders of complicity of atrocities against Sudanese civilians. His reaction was regarded by observers as isolating Sudan politically and straining the latest peace efforts.[200]

Fighting in Kordofan and Gezira

As 2024 began the RSF made attacks into South Kordofan, defeating SAF forces in the town of Habila in the Nuba Mountains and pushing toward Dalang.[201] On 7 January the RSF attacked SAF positions in Dalang, meeting fierce resistance from the army and civilian militias.[193][202] During the fighting the SPLM-N (al-Hilu) entered the city, taking control of several neighbourhoods. SPLM-N forces proceeded to attack the RSF, and the paramilitary retreated from the city.[203] RSF fighters withdrawing from Dalang entered the city of Muglad in West Kordofan, easily taking control as the city had no organised SAF presence. West Kordofan had been relatively free of fighting for several months due to a local truce brokered by leaders of the Messiria tribe, but as tensions began to escalate rumours spread that the RSF was planning an attack on the encircled city of Babanusa and the SAF 22nd Infantry Division garrisoning it.[203]

In January 2024, the RSF focused on consolidating its gains in Gezira State. Fighting was reported on 17 January east of El Manaqil, the last major town not under RSF control. The SAF delivered weapons to the city by helicopter, including selectively distributing them among civilians in the town, attempting to bolster its defenses. Sudan's National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) selectively recruited and armed civilians based on perceived loyalty.[204]

On 24 January 2024, the RSF launched an attack on Babanusa after encircling the city for months. By 25 January, the RSF gained control of the city center and entered the headquarters of the 22nd infantry division.[205]

Until March 2024, the RSF maintained its positions in Gezira State but was unable to breakthrough.[206] The RSF is recruiting in Gezira State to try to capture territory in El-Gadarif from the SAF.[207]

The JEM, which has allied with the SAF, helped the SAF build up its forces in El-Gadarif for a counteroffensive to try to retake Wad Madani. In April 2024, the SAF and its allies began the counteroffensive, attacking from the east and west of Wad Madani in an attempt to retake it.[208] Clashes were reported in Al-Madina Arab on 15 April.[209]

A sketch map of Omdurman with Khartoum and Khartoum North. The White Nile flowing from the south is joined by the Blue Nile flowing from the east.

SAF 2024 Omdurman offensive

The SAF gained ground in Omdurman in February 2024, linking up their forces in the northern part of the city and relieving a 10-month siege of their forces in the city centre. The SAF also took control of the Al-Hilal Stadium.[210] The Omdurman front is the only area in Sudan where the SAF has carried out a sustained offensive operation, and represents the first major breakthrough for the SAF.[210]

On 12 March, the SAF defeated an attempted RSF counteroffensive and took control of the headquarters of the

Sudan National Broadcasting Corporation[211] in Omdurman from the RSF.[212] The RSF maintains its control of Khartoum and continues to threaten Khartoum North.[213]

As of April 2024, fighting in Khartoum State is ongoing, with the RSF in control of the southern and western part of Omdurman and the SAF in control of northern and eastern part of Omdurman, with the RSF controlling the majority of Khartoum and Khartoum North. The SAF continued to prepare an offensive to relieve its surrounded bases in Khartoum North.[214]

April 2024–present

Fighting in Darfur

On 15 April, during the

Joint Darfur Force declared war on the RSF and allied with the SAF.[216][217]

The fighting in El Fasher has diverted SAF resources from other areas, hampering planned counter-offensives to retake Khartoum and Wad Madani. In particular, the SAF has been using its limited aviation resources to carry out airstrikes in North Darfur and resupply El Fasher using airdrops.[218]

Fighting in Kordofan

As of May 2024, fighting is ongoing in Babanusa, West Kordofan. The RSF is conducting an offensive to attempt to take control of West Kordofan.[219] Fighting was also reported in North Kordofan.[220]

Fighting along the Nile

In May 2024, the RSF launched attacks against the SAF between Khartoum State and River Nile State, as well as in White Nile State near the border with Gezira state. The SAF is preparing its forces in River Nile State, ahead of a potential invasion of Khartoum Bahri.[221]

Negotiations

Speaking to SAF troops on 12 April 2024, al-Burhan said that RSF withdrawal from all major urban centers was a precondition to negotiations.[222]

Renewed negotiations were scheduled to begin in Jeddah on 18 April 2024 amid hopes that external actors who had historically backed the RSF (UAE) and the SAF (Egypt) would be present. However, talks currently in progress in Cairo (also involving Egypt and the UAE) are thought to be in competition with the planned Jeddah summit. Meanwhile, Djibouti's president

Ismail Omar Guelleh was reportedly trying to convince al-Burhan to return to the IGAD.[223]

On 29 May 2024, al-Burhan had a phone call with United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Blinken requested the resumption of negotiations with the RSF in Jeddah but the Sudanese government declined, citing the lack of prior consultation and the need for established peace foundations.[224][225]

Casualties

As of March 2024, at least 14,000

Sudan Doctors Syndicate said at least 959 civilians had been killed and 4,750 others were injured.[230] On 15 August 2023, the UN said that at least 435 children had been killed in the conflict.[231] Doctors on the ground warned that stated figures do not include all casualties as people could not reach hospitals due to difficulties in movement.[232] A spokesperson for the Sudanese Red Crescent was quoted as saying that the number of casualties "was not small".[84] Sudanese prosecutors recorded over 500 missing persons cases across the country, some of which were enforced disappearances, and were mostly blamed on the RSF.[233] On 2 May 2024, a US Senate hearing on the war estimated that between 15,000 and 30,000 people have died but considered that to be an underestimation by a factor of 10 to 15 times saying the real death toll could be as high as 150,000.[19] As of 27 May 2024, Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project data reports 17,044 fatalities.[234]

Darfur

In Geneina, West Darfur, ethnic clashes that began in the last week of April 2023 had killed at least 1,100 people,[235] while the Sultanate of Dar Masalit claimed that more than 5,000 people were killed and about 8,000 were wounded in the city.[228] In July 2023, a Masalit tribal leader claimed that more than 10,000 people had been killed in West Darfur alone, and that 80% of Geneina's residents had fled.[229]

Massacres were recorded in towns such as Tawila[236] and Misterei,[109] while a mass grave was discovered in Geneina containing the bodies of 87 people killed in clashes.[144] Several intellectuals, politicians, professionals and nobility were assassinated. Most of these atrocities were blamed on the RSF and allied Arab militias. The UK government,[237] witnesses and other observers described the violence in the region as tantamount to ethnic cleansing or even genocide, with non-Arab groups such as the Masalit being the primary victims.[236] Mujeebelrahman Yagoub, Assistant Commissioner for Refugees in West Darfur called the violence worse than the War in Darfur in 2003 and the Rwandan genocide in 1994.[238]

Sexual violence

In July 2023, authorities reported at least 88 cases of sexual assault on women across the country, most of them blamed on the RSF.

Al Jazeera reported that Sudanese women were forced to exchange sex for food or become mistresses to RSF fighters to ensure their families’ safety and access to food.[242]

Casualties among humanitarian workers

In the Battle of Kabkabiya, three employees of the World Food Programme (WFP) were killed after being caught in the crossfire at a military base. Two other staff members were injured.[243] On 18 April 2023, the EU's top humanitarian aid officer in Sudan, Wim Fransen of Belgium, was shot and injured in Khartoum.[244] On 21 April 2023, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported that one of its local employees was killed in a crossfire while traveling with his family near El-Obeid.[245] On 20 July 2023, an 18-member team of Médecins Sans Frontières was attacked while transporting supplies to the Turkish Hospital in south Khartoum. By then, the World Health Organization had verified 51 attacks on medical facilities and personnel since the conflict began, resulting in 10 deaths and 24 injuries.[246] On 25 July 2023, Humanitarian Coordinator Clementine Nkweta-Salami said 18 aid workers had been killed and over two dozen others were detained or unaccounted for.[247] The conflict has led the United Nations to declare Sudan the most dangerous country in the world for humanitarian workers after South Sudan.[248]

The situation was further compounded by attacks on humanitarian facilities, with more than 50 warehouses looted, 82 offices ransacked, and over 200 vehicles stolen. One particularly devastating looting incident in El Obeid in early June 2023 resulted in the loss of food "that could have fed 4.4 million people".

Attacks on journalists

The SAF and RSF are accused of threatening, attacking, and killing journalists during the conflict. The Sudanese Journalists Syndicate documented over 40 violations in May alone. Several journalists were injured or killed, and 13 newspapers ceased operations. Humanitarian workers were also targeted, with 18 killed and many others detained.

Media organizations accused both the SAF and the RSF of threatening, attacking and even killing several journalists during the conflict, with the Sudanese Journalists Syndicate documenting more than 40 such violations during the second half of May alone.[249] Aside from the occupation of state media channels, the RSF raided the offices of the newspapers El Hirak El Siyasi, El Madaniya and the Sudanese Communist Party's El Midan[250] and shot and injured photojournalists Faiz Abubakr,[251] and Ali Shata,[252] while the SAF was accused of circulating lists of journalists it accused of supporting the RSF.[253]

al-Arabiya correspondent Salem Mahmoud was interrupted and questioned by the RSF.[255] On 30 June 2023, Radio Zalingei journalist Samaher Abdelshafee was killed by shelling at Hasaheisa refugee camp near Zalingei, where she and her family had fled after fighting in the city.[256] Sudan TV photographer Esam Marajan was shot dead inside his home in the Beit El Mal neighborhood of Omdurman in the first week of August 2023.[257] Sports photojournalist Esam El Haj was killed during clashes around the Al-Shajara garrison in Khartoum on 20 August 2023.[258] Halima Idris Salim, a reporter for Sudan Bukra was killed on 10 October 2023 after she was reportedly struck by an RSF vehicle while covering the fighting in Omdurman.[259]

The Sudanese Journalists Syndicate (SJS) reported on 10 August 2023 that 13 newspapers had ceased operations due to the conflict, while FM radio stations and channels also halted broadcasts, with journalists grappling with unpaid wages.[260] It later reported in December 2023 that the RSF had turned the premises of the Sudan Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) into a detention center and was involved in the looting of other media outlets, including the BBC's Khartoum branch, and the sale of media equipment, including that of the SBC, in markets in Omdurman.[261]

Intermittent telecommunications and internet since the beginning of the conflict, and in particular a near total blackout in February and March 2024 severely limited reporting in and from Sudan. The RSF is reportedly selling access to Starlink to get around the blackout,[262] which allegedly allows them to track journalists.[263][264] In April 2024, the government suspended the licenses of three foreign media outlets (UAE-based Sky News Arabia, Saudi-based Al Arabiya and Al Hadath),[264] while the editor of the now-closed Al-Sudani said that 23 local print outlets had shut down.[263] Casualties in 2024 include Khalid Balal (a media director), who was fatally shot at his home in North Darfur on 1 March, as well as many journalists who were beaten. Harassment—including sexual harassment—and detention were also reported, including the editor-in-chief of al-Maidan, a local news outlet, who is under RSF custody as of April 2024.[264]

Foreign casualties

Foreign casualties in the Sudanese civil war
Country Deaths Ref.
 Ethiopia 15 [265]
 Syria 15 [266]
 Democratic Republic of the Congo 10 [267]
 Eritrea 9 [268]
 Egypt 2 [269]
 United States 2 [270]
 India 1 [271]
 Turkey 1 [272]

Civilians, including 15 Syrians,[266] 15 Ethiopians[265] and 9 Eritreans[268] have been killed across the country. An Indian national working in Khartoum died after being hit by a stray bullet on 15 April.[271] Two Americans were killed, including a professor working in the University of Khartoum who was stabbed to death while evacuating.[270][273] A two-year-old girl from Turkey was killed while her parents were injured after their house was struck by a rocket on 18 April.[272] Two Egyptian doctors were killed in their home in Khartoum and had their possessions stolen on 13 June.[269] Ten students from the Democratic Republic of the Congo were killed in an SAF airstrike on the International University of Africa in Khartoum on 4 June.[267] The SAF claimed that the Egyptian assistant military attaché was killed by RSF fire while driving his car in Khartoum, which was refuted by the Egyptian ambassador.[274]

Two Greek nationals trapped in a church on 15 April sustained leg injuries when caught in crossfire while trying to leave.

European Union Ambassador to Sudan, Aidan O'Hara of Ireland, was assaulted by unidentified "armed men wearing military fatigues" in his home, he suffered minor injuries and was able to resume working on 19 April.[279][280] On 23 April, a French evacuation convoy was shot at, injuring one person.[281] The French government later confirmed the casualty to be a French soldier.[282] An employee of the Egyptian embassy was shot and injured during an evacuation mission.[283][284]

Notable deaths

Foreign involvement

Egypt

On 16 April 2023, the RSF claimed that its troops in Port Sudan were attacked by foreign aircraft and issued a warning against any foreign interference.[289] According to former CIA analyst Cameron Hudson, Egyptian fighter jets were a part of these bombing campaigns against the RSF, and Egyptian special forces units have been deployed and are providing intelligence and tactical support to the SAF.[290] The Wall Street Journal said that Egypt had sent fighter jets and pilots to support the Sudanese military.[291] On 17 April, satellite imagery obtained by The War Zone revealed that one Egyptian Air Force MiG-29M2 fighter jet had been destroyed and two others had been damaged or destroyed at Merowe Airbase. A Sudanese Air Force Guizhou JL-9 was among the destroyed aircraft.[292] After initial confusion, the RSF accepted the explanation that Egyptian combat and support personnel were conducting exercises with the Sudanese military prior to the outbreak of hostilities.[69]

Egyptian POWs

On 15 April, RSF forces claimed, via Twitter, to have taken Egyptian troops prisoner near

better source needed] The RSF later stated that it would cooperate in repatriating the soldiers to Egypt.[295] On 19 April, the RSF stated that it had moved the soldiers to Khartoum and would hand them over when the "appropriate opportunity" arose.[298] One hundred and seventy-seven of the captured Egyptian troops were released and flown back to Egypt aboard three Egyptian military planes that took off from Khartoum airport later in the day. The remaining 27 soldiers, who were from the Egyptian Air Force, were sheltered at the Egyptian embassy and later evacuated.[299][300]

United Arab Emirates

A report published by the Wall Street Journal on 10 August 2023 quoted Ugandan officials as saying that an

UAE Foreign Ministry subsequently denied the allegations, saying that the country "does not take sides" in the conflict.[301]

In September 2023,

COP28 summit held in Dubai.[304]

On 10 December 2023, Sudan ordered the expulsion from the country of 15 Emirati diplomats. No reason was provided, but it came amid reports that the UAE had been providing weapons to the RSF.[305] The day before, three Sudanese diplomats were ordered expelled from the UAE following comments made by SAF deputy commander Yasser al-Atta during which he accused the UAE of supporting the RSF and called the country a "mafia state".[306] Sudan's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Al-Harith Idriss Al-Harith Mohamed criticized the UAE in a letter to the UN Security Council. In the 78-page complaint, he claimed that the UAE planned and supported the RSF campaigns against the SAF, adding that the UAE used Chad to transport military supplies and mercenaries through its territory. The letter also urged the council to take action and push the UAE to stop supporting the RSF.[307]

In April 2024, the Sudanese government said that the UAE sent new supplies to the RSF through Cameroon and Chad.[308] Sudan's representative to the UN, Al-Harith Idriss submitted a request for an emergency UN Security Council meeting to discuss the UAE's provision of weapons to the RSF, saying that it “makes the UAE an accomplice in all its crimes”.[309] On 24 May 2024, a closed-door meeting was held by the UN Security Council on Sudan. However, Al-Harith Idriss criticized the meeting’s format for not addressing the UAE’s alleged aggressive acts against Sudan. He said that instead of meeting Sudan’s expectations or addressing the seriousness of the situation, the UN meeting impaired the urgency of Sudanese concerns. Meanwhile, another meeting scheduled for April 2024 to discuss Sudan’s complaint against the UAE was also postponed at the UK’s request to protect its economic interests with the Emirates. However, Mozambique’s Ambassador broadly discussed about Sudan’s grave situation, which was acknowledged by Idriss.[310]

A report in May 2024 revealed that the RSF was getting weapons from the UAE via networks in Libya, Chad, Central African Republic, South Sudan, Uganda, and

Mohamed bin Zayed. In Sudan, the UAE is interested in its gold and is also planning to build ports along the Sudanese Red Sea coast.[311] US Democratic Congress members of Congress lawmakers called on the UAE to stop backing the RSF, warning that a “crisis of epic proportions is brewing” in a letter to Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan that expressed “grave concern over the arms supply by the Emirates to the RSF.[312][313] The UK also called on the UAE to end its support to the RSF, following which the Emirates cancelled multiple ministerial meetings with British officials.[314]

Libyan National Army

On 18 April, an SAF general claimed that two unnamed neighboring countries were trying to provide aid to the RSF.[315] According to The Wall Street Journal, Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar, who is backed by United Arab Emirates and the Russian paramilitary Wagner Group, dispatched at least one plane to fly military supplies to the RSF.[291][when?] The Observer reported that Haftar assisted in preparing the RSF for months before the conflict broke out.[316] The Libyan National Army, which is commanded by Haftar, denied providing support to any warring groups in Sudan and said it was ready to play a mediating role.[317]

Russia

Prior to the conflict, the UAE and the

better source needed] According to CNN, Wagner supplied surface-to-air missiles to the RSF, picking up the items from Syria and delivering some of them by plane to Haftar-controlled bases in Libya to be then delivered to the RSF, while dropping other items directly to RSF positions in northwestern Sudan.[320] US officials said that Wagner was offering to supply additional weapons to the RSF from its existing stocks in the Central African Republic.[321] On 6 September, Wagner reportedly deployed a convoy of more than 100 vehicles carrying weapons to the RSF garrison in al-Zurug from Chad.[322] SAF deputy commander Lieutenant General Yasser al-Atta also accused the Wagner Group of bringing in mercenaries from Chad, Mali, Niger, the Central African Republic, Burkina Faso, South Sudan, Ethiopia, and Libya to fight alongside the RSF.[303]

In response to these allegations, Russian Foreign Minister

Sergei Lavrov defended the possible involvement of the Wagner Group, saying that Sudan had the right to use its services.[323] The head of the Wagner Group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, denied supporting the RSF, saying that the company has not had a presence in Sudan for more than two years.[324] The RSF denied allegations that Wagner Group was supporting them, instead stating that the SAF was seeking such support.[325][326] Sudan has denied the presence of Wagner on its territory.[327][328]

On 1 June 2024, Sudan's Ambassador to Russia confirmed his country's willingness to allow construction of a Russian naval base on the Red Sea.[329]

Other foreign actors

Chad

On 7 June 2023, Hissein Alamine Tchaw-tchaw, a Chadian dissident who belongs to the same ethnic group as Hemedti and claiming to be the leader of the Movement for the Fight of the Oppressed in Chad (MFOC), which is fighting the government of President Mahamat Déby, posted a video showing his participation in an RSF attack on the Yarmouk munitions factory in Khartoum.[330]

On 17 November, the SLM-Minnawi and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) accused the Chadian government of supporting the RSF, and "supplying it with military equipment and mercenaries by opening its territory and airspace."[331] A report from Africa Analyst alleged that Chadian soldiers belonging to a joint Chadian-Sudanese command under Osman Bahr intercepted a shipment of military equipment intended for the RSF on its way from N'Djamena and gave it instead to the JEM, which the latter denied.[332] The Economist linked Chad's junta receiving financial support from the UAE in exchange for allowing it to support the RSF through Amdjarass airport.[333][334]

Following accusations by SAF deputy commander Yasser al-Atta of Chadian government support for the RSF, the Chadian government unsuccessfully demanded an apology from the Sudanese ambassador and expelled four Sudanese diplomats from the country on 17 December.[335]

Kenya

Kenyan President William Ruto was frequently accused by the SAF of supporting the RSF.

The SAF rejected Kenya's involvement in mediation efforts to end the conflict in July after al-Burhan accused President William Ruto of having a business relationship with Hemedti and providing a haven to the RSF.[336][337] In response to proposals for a peacekeeping force composed by African countries to be deployed in Sudan made in an Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) committee chaired by Ruto, the SAF's Assistant Commander-in-Chief Lieutenant General Yasir Alatta accused Ruto of being a mercenary of another country, whom he did not identify, and dared Ruto to deploy the Kenyan army and that of his alleged backer.[338] On 7 September, the Sudanese government threatened to withdraw the country's membership in IGAD unless Ruto was removed as chairman of the mediation committee.[339]

In response, Kenyan Foreign Secretary Abraham Korir Sing'oei called these allegations "baseless",[340] while the Kenyan Foreign Ministry insisted on the country's neutrality in the conflict.[341]

A hacking group calling itself

Kenyan government and private websites in the last week of July.[342]

Ukraine

On 19 September, CNN reported that it was "likely" that Ukrainian Special Operations Forces were behind a series of drone strikes and a ground operation which was directed against the Wagner-backed RSF near Khartoum on 8 September.[322] Kyrylo Budanov, chief of the Main Directorate of Intelligence of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, stated in an interview on 22 September that he could neither deny nor confirm the involvement of Ukraine in the conflict in Sudan,[343] but said that Ukraine would punish Russian war criminals anywhere in the world.[344]

On 6 November, the Kyiv Post released drone footage of what it claimed was Ukrainian special forces attacking Wagner mercenaries in an unidentified urban area in Sudan with an explosive projectile, which was believed to have been taken about two weeks before its publication.[345] On 30 January 2024, the Kyiv Post reported that Ukrainian special forces had launched three drone strikes targeting the Wagner Group and other Russian forces in Sudan as well as their local partners in the preceding weeks.[346] The Kyiv Post released a report on 5 February 2024 with video showing the aftermath of an attack by Ukrainian special forces on a Wagner Group unit that had suffered several deaths and the capture of at least one member seen being interrogated on camera.[347]

Iran

Despite longtime frosty relations between the Sudanese government and Iran, the Iranian government gave military and political support to the SAF. Most prominently, the Iranian government has supplied Mohajer-6 drones to the SAF, which are viewed by journalist Wim Zwijnenburg as a major tactical boon for the Armed Forces.[348][349][350] The drones were later credited with the SAF's success in retaking the Sudanese state media company's headquarters from the RSF in March 2024.[351] Iran's support for the SAF was viewed by analyst Jihad Mashamoun as being motivated by a desire to gain access to the Red Sea, as well as an attempt to undermine the United Arab Emirates' support for the RSF.[348] Senior Sudanese government officials denied receiving such aid from Iran.[352] On 10 April, Reuters reported that according to a senior Sudanese army officer and to six unidentified Iranian sources that Iranian-made drones had helped the army push back the RSF, whose press office confirmed, without providing evidence, that this fit with their intelligence. Multiple cargo flights in December 2023 and January 2024 from Iran to Port Sudan have been identified by Zwijnenburg.[353]

Evacuation of foreign nationals

Repatriations through the European Union Civil Protection Mechanism
Foreign nationals being evacuated to port of Jeddah

The outbreak of violence has led foreign governments to monitor the situation in Sudan and move toward the evacuation and repatriation of their nationals. Among some countries with a number of expatriates in Sudan are

dual nationals.[355] Efforts at extraction were hampered by the fighting within the capital Khartoum, particularly in and around the airport. This has forced evacuations to be undertaken by road via Port Sudan on the Red Sea, which lies about 650 km (400 miles) northeast of Khartoum.[356] from where they were airlifted or ferried directly to their home countries or to third ones. Other evacuations were undertaken through overland border crossings or airlifts from diplomatic missions and other designated locations with direct involvement of the militaries of some home countries. Some transit hubs used during the evacuation include the port of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia and Djibouti, which hosts military bases of the United States, China, Japan, France, and other European countries.[357]

Sanctions

United States

The repeated violations of the ceasefire agreements and other atrocities during the conflict led to U.S. President Joe Biden issuing an executive order on 4 May 2023 authorizing sanctions for those deemed responsible for destabilizing Sudan, undermining the democratic transition and committing human rights abuses.[358] On 1 June, the US government imposed its first sanctions related to the conflict, targeting two firms associated with the SAF and two others linked to the RSF. It also imposed visa restrictions against individuals involved in the violence, but did not divulge any names.[359]

On 6 September, the

Ali Karti, the Sudan-based GSK Advance Company Ltd, and the Russia-based military company Aviatrade LLC, accusing Karti and other Islamist hardliners of obstructing efforts toward a ceasefire and accusing the firms of supporting the RSF.[361][362]

On 4 December, the State Department imposed sanctions on three former officials of the Bashir regime, namely former minister and presidential aide Taha Osman Ahmed al-Hussein and former directors of the Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Services Salah Abdallah Mohamed Salah aka Sala Gosh and Mohamed Etta Elmoula Abbas, citing Al-Hussein's involvement in coordinating with regional actors to support the RSF, Gosh's plotting to overthrow the civilian-led transitional government, and Elmoula's attempts to restore the Bashir regime to power.[363]

On 15 May 2024, the US imposed sanctions on the RSF's head of operations Osman Mohamed Hamid Mohamed and its commander in Central Darfur Ali Yagoub Gibril for their role in the fighting in North Darfur.[364]

Other countries

On 12 July 2023, the United Kingdom announced sanctions on firms linked to the SAF and the RSF for providing funds and weapons in the conflict.[365] On 15 April 2024, Canada imposed sanctions on two individuals and four entities linked to the SAF and the RSF.[366]

Humanitarian impact

The humanitarian crisis following the fighting was further exacerbated by the violence occurring during a period of high temperatures, drought and it starting during the fasting month of Ramadan. Civilians were unable to venture outside of their homes to obtain food and supplies for fear of getting caught in the crossfire. A doctors' group said that hospitals remained understaffed and were running low on supplies as wounded people streamed in.[367] The World Health Organization recorded around 26 attacks on healthcare facilities, some of which resulted in casualties among medical workers and civilians.[368] The World Health Organization said 80% of hospitals in conflict areas were out of service[369] with 32 forcibly evacuated by soldiers or caught in the crossfire.[370] This included about half of Khartoum's 130 medical facilities and all hospitals in West Darfur.[371] Outbreaks of diseases such as measles, cholera and diarrhea were reported across the country.[372]

In April 2023, the United Nations reported that shortages of basic goods, such as food, water, medicines and fuel have become "extremely acute".[373] The delivery of badly-needed remittances from overseas migrant workers was also halted after Western Union announced in the same month that it was closing all operations in Sudan until further notice.[374] The World Food Programme said that more than $13 million worth of food aid destined for Sudan had been looted in the twenty days since the fighting broke out.[375] The looting of the WFP's warehouses in El-Obeid on 1 June led to the loss of food aid meant to feed 4.4 million people.[376] An estimated 25 million people, equivalent to more than half of Sudan's population, were said to be in need of aid in June 2023.[377] On 25 July, Humanitarian Coordinator Clementine Nkweta-Salami said attacks on humanitarian facilities had led to more than 50 warehouses looted, 82 offices ransacked, and over 200 vehicles stolen.[247]

In September 2023, the

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that 1,200 children had died from disease outbreaks in refugee camps in White Nile State since May.[378] In Central Darfur, the head of the Hamidiya refugee camp said at least 43 children had died in the camp since July.[379] UNICEF also estimated that the conflict had led to the number of children being out of school in Sudan to rise from seven million prior to the fighting to 19 million in October 2023.[380] By 2024, the war's economic costs had surpassed all prior armed conflicts since Sudanese independence in 1956 due to extensive destruction of infrastructure, particularly in urban areas such as the capital city of Khartoum.[381]

The World Food Programme released a report on 22 February 2024 saying that more than 95% of Sudan's population could not afford a meal a day.[382] The dramatic decrease in agricultural activity ("cereal production in 2023 was nearly halved") caused increases in food prices, and the conflict led to infrequent aid convoys. According to an army official cited by Al Jazeera, as of 29 March 2024 "70 aid trucks have been stuck in North Kordofan since October". The UN estimated that 25 million people still needed aid, with 5 million facing famine and 18 million enduring "acute food insecurity". Mobile networks being cut for nearly two months compounded the problems for those being helped by remittances from relatives abroad.[242] According to the United Nations, both the SAF and RSF are posing obstacles to food aid because they want to prevent food from getting to areas controlled by the other.[242]

Refugees

Sudanese refugee camp in Chad, 16 May 2023.

As of 3 June 2024, more than 9.2 million residents of Sudan have been displaced due to the fighting. The United Nations said that the conflict had produced more than 7.1 million

internally displaced persons (IDPs), while more than two million had fled the country altogether.[21] This has made Sudan the largest host of IDPs globally.[383] The International Organization for Migration estimated that around 69% of IDPs had come from the Khartoum region.[384] In November, the UN said the conflict had created the largest child displacement crisis in the world, affecting three million children.[385]

Of those who fled abroad, more than 160,000 of them were Masalit who fled to Chad to escape ethnically based attacks by the RSF and allied militias.[386] Fighting between the SAF and the SPLM-N (al-Hilu) had reportedly displaced more than 35,000 people in Blue Nile State alone, with 3,000 of them fleeing to Ethiopia,[61] while more than 83,000 were displaced in South Kordofan.[387] As of August, more than 400,000 people had fled to Chad, making it the largest single destination of refugees from the conflict, while others fled to other neighboring countries such as the Central African Republic, Egypt, and South Sudan.[388]

Criticism was levelled at diplomatic missions operating in Sudan for their slow response in helping Sudanese visa applicants whose passports were left behind in embassies following their closure during evacuation efforts, preventing them from leaving the country.[389]

Economic impact

The UN estimated that economic activity in Sudan fell by more than a third during the first three weeks of the conflict.[390] In July, Sudanese economists estimated the total amount of damage brought by the conflict at $9 billion, or an average of $100 million per day, while the value of property and goods looted was estimated at another $40 billion, with the most affected areas being Khartoum and South Darfur.[391] The exchange rate of the US dollar against the Sudanese pound in the black market rose to SDG730 in September, while it reached SDG625 at the official rate. This later reached SDG1250 in February 2024. The formal economy was described as being in a "near standstill".[392][390] Gold production was also reduced to just two tons from the previous year's output of 18 tons.[393] Sudanese minister for minerals Mohamed Bashir Abu Nammu accused the RSF of looting around 15 tons of silver and 1,273 kilograms of gold from the Sudan Gold Refinery at the start of the conflict.[394]

In February 2024, finance minister Gibril Ibrahim said that the Sudanese economy had contracted by 40 percent in 2023 due to the fighting, with an additional decline of 28 percent expected in 2024. He added that state revenues had also decreased by 80 percent.[395] Sudanese port authorities estimated that international trade had fallen by 23 percent in 2023. The Sudanese finance ministry was unable to set a national budget for 2023 or 2024 and stopped issuing quarterly reports. It also raised the exchange rate for imports and exports from SDG650 to SDG950. The fighting also rendered more than 60 percent of Sudan's agricultural land out of service, according to Fikra for Studies and Development.[392]

In May 2024, The Wall Street Journal reported that both the RSF and SAF were using revenue from the sale of gum arabic, which is primarily grown in Sudan, to finance their operations.[396]

War crimes investigations

Both the SAF and the RSF are accused of committing war crimes,[397][398][399][400][401] with the RSF being singled out by the Human Rights Watch,[399][402] and the United Kingdom[403] and United States[404] governments for committing crimes against humanity.[405]

On 13 July 2023, the office of the International Criminal Court's Chief Prosecutor Karim Ahmad Khan said that it had launched investigations into possible war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the course of the 2023 conflict, within the context of its Darfur investigation, which started in 2005 based on United Nations Security Council Resolution 1593.[406][407] The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution limits the investigation to Darfur.[408][409] On 5 September, UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide Alice Wairimu Nderitu acknowledged that the conflict and related abuses had "strong identity-based components."[410] In an interview by the BBC, Burhan said that he would cooperate with the ICC to bring those responsible to justice.[411] In his report to the UNSC on 29 January 202, he expressed that there are "reasonable grounds to believe" that crimes outlined in the "Rome Statute" are currently taking place in the "unstable western region".[412][413][414]

On 3 August 2023, Amnesty International released its report on the conflict. Titled Death Came To Our Home: War Crimes and Civilian Suffering In Sudan, it documented "mass civilian casualties in both deliberate and indiscriminate attacks" by both the SAF and the RSF, particularly in Khartoum and West Darfur. It also detailed sexual violence against women and girls as young as 12, targeted attacks on civilian facilities such as hospitals and churches, and looting.[415][416][417]

On 6 September 2023, the

US Treasury imposed sanctions on the RSF's deputy commander and Hemedti's brother Abdelrahim Dagalo, and Abdel Rahman Jumma, the RSF's top commander in West Darfur, over "extensive" human rights violations during the conflict, with Jumma in particular being accused of masterminding the assassination of the state's governor Khamis Abakar in June.[418] Antony Blinken, United States Secretary of State, accused the RSF ethnic cleansing in December 2023.[401]

The SAF accused the RSF of perpetrating war crimes.[419] On 4 August, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, as chair of the Transitional Sovereignty Council, established a committee tasked with investigating war crimes, human rights violations, and other crimes attributed to the RSF.[420] The committee was to be chaired by a representative of the Attorney General, and also included officials from the Foreign and Justice Ministries, the SAF, the Police, the General Intelligence Service, and the National Commission for Human Rights.[421][422] During his speech to the UN General Assembly in New York in September, al-Burhan called for the international community to designate the RSF as a "terrorist group".[423]

In September 2023, the United States, Britain, Norway, and Germany planned to propose a motion to the UN Human Rights Council for an investigation into the alleged atrocities in Sudan. The draft motion, which condemns the human rights violations during the conflict, aimed to establish a three-person Fact Finding Mission to investigate these allegations. The experts would document the violations and provide updates to the 47-member Council. The draft has been circulated among member countries but has not yet been formally submitted to the Council.[424] On 11 October, the United Nations Human Rights Council voted 19–16 with 12 abstentions to adopt a resolution creating a fact-finding committee on crimes and violations in Sudan since the start of the conflict.[425]

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called for robust measures to address the ongoing atrocities, urging the United States to take action at the UN Security Council to protect civilians and hold those responsible for the violence accountable.[426] The United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) has expressed grave concern over the targeting of civilians and public facilities by the RSF and allied militias, and the need for urgent action to ensure the safety and protection of civilians in Darfur.[427]

Early March 2024, the UN Panel of Experts on Sudan, mandated by Resolution 2620 (2022) of the UN Security Council, published their latest report. It described the wide-ranging devastation and violence in the country, caused in many cases by the RSF and associated militias.[428] With regard to war crimes in West Darfur, the report estimated the death rate through ethnic cleansing of the Masalit community in El Geneina between 10,000 and 15,000. In her speech before the Security Council Committee, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US Representative to the United Nations, commented: "It is my hope that the sobering report will at long last shake the world from its indifference to the horrors playing out before our eyes."[429]

In April 2024, the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights released a report into breaches of the Genocide Convention in Darfur.[430] The independent report found that there is "clear and convincing evidence" that the RSF and its allied militias "have committed and are committing genocide against the Masalit," a non-Arab ethnic group, and that all 153 states that have signed the Genocide Convention are "obligated to end complicity in and employ all means reasonably available to prevent and halt the genocide." It goes on to say that there is "clear and convincing evidence" that Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, Libya, Chad, the Central African Republic (CAR) and Russia via the actions of the Wagner Group are "complicit in the genocide."[430]

Disinformation

During the conflict, several instances of disinformation were observed, which aimed to manipulate public opinion, spread false narratives, and create confusion. Both the SAF and the RSF engaged in disinformation campaigns on social media platforms.[431] The RSF heavily relied on tweets and inauthentic behavior to spread its agenda and influence local and international opinions. On the other hand, the Sudanese army used Twitter to refute RSF claims and boost army morale with false victory claims.[431] The RSF had dedicated teams based in Khartoum and Dubai to engage in a digital propaganda war. They used social media, including officially verified Facebook and Twitter accounts, to showcase their activities and spread disinformation.[432]

Various misleading videos were shared on social media platforms, falsely depicting scenes of violence in the ongoing fighting between the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces. Some videos were taken from other conflicts or events, misattributed to the current crisis in Sudan.[433] Some viral images on social media were unrelated or misleadingly attributed to the ongoing fighting in Sudan.[434]

Examples

On 14 April, the official SAF social media page published a video which it said was of operations carried out by the Sudanese Air Force against the RSF. Al Jazeera's monitoring and verification unit claimed the video had been fabricated using footage from the video game Arma 3 that was published on TikTok in March 2023. The unit claimed the video showing Sudanese army commander Abdel Fattah al-Burhan inspecting the Armoured Corps, in Al-Shajara, was from before the fighting. A video reportedly of helicopters flying over Khartoum to participate in operations by the SAF against the RSF, which circulated on social media, turned out to be from November 2022.[435]

Two photos circulated on social media that depicted a burning bridge reported as Bahri bridge and a bombed building allegedly in Khartoum, were both revealed to be from the

better source needed
]

In April, a video supposedly showing the RSF in control of

Lead Stories found that the video had appeared online 3 months prior to the conflict.[437] A video posted in June and taken by an RSF soldier showing purported victims of the Bashir regime turned out to have been that of mummies and human remains used as props from the M. Bolheim Bioarchaeology Laboratory in Khartoum, which were thought to date from 3300 to 3000 BCE.[438]

On 5 May, the British newspaper I reported that the RSF had sent "special bulletins" to UK politicians, which it claimed were to combat "the disproportionate amount of disinformation" about the conflict. The bulletins were created with the assistance of Capital Tap Holdings, a Dubai-based investment firm which has mining interests in Sudan. The I reported that the RSF's Facebook page was being run jointly from UAE and Sudan, and its Instagram account appeared to be based in Saudi Arabia, with the RSF saying its media team was based in Khartoum.[439]

In June, a picture of

Sudanese Doctors Syndicate, accusing the organization of being partial toward the RSF and collaborating with the so-called "Janjaweed" militia. These false accusations endangered the reputation and safety of the medical professionals.[442]

Footage of an SAF warplane reportedly shot down by the RSF in Khartoum on 20 September was found to be that of an

Su-25 fighter jet that crashed in Mali,[443] while a video showing an Egyptian Air Force warplane reportedly shot down by the RSF while on a mission in northern Sudan was found to be that of a Libyan aircraft taken outside Sudan in 2020.[444]

Responses

On 11 August, Facebook shut down the main pages of the RSF due to a violation of its policy, "Dangerous Organizations and Individuals". In an alternate account, the RSF accused the SAF of lodging complaints based on false reports that led to the removal of its pages and said it was in contact with Facebook's parent company Meta Platforms to restore them.[445]

Kyle Walter of

generative AI being used to create fake images and text. Although we don't know if this so-called sophisticated 'special bulletin' was created by this technology, it is symbolic of the wider issue at hand: an inability to trust what you're seeing, reading, and the undermining of the entire information landscape."[439]

Reactions

Domestic

Former Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok publicly appealed to both al-Burhan and Hemedti to cease fighting.[446]

On 18 April, el-Wasig el-Bereir of the National Umma Party said he was in communication with the SAF and the RSF to get them to stop fighting immediately,[447] while el-Fateh Hussein of the Khartoum resistance committees called for the fighting to stop immediately, stating that the resistance committees had long called for the SAF to "return to their barracks" and for the RSF to be dissolved.[447]

Sudanese resistance committees coordinated medical support networks, sprayed antiwar messages on walls, and encouraged local communities to avoid siding with either the RSF or the SAF. Hamid Murtada, a member of the resistance committees, described the resistance committees as having "an important role in raising awareness to their constituencies and in supporting initiatives that [would] end the war immediately".[448]

On 22 and 23 April, protests against the conflict were held by residents in Khartoum North,

Damazin.[449] On 30 July, different groups in Kadugli organized marches against the violence in South Kordofan, some of whom supported the SAF, while others condemned the SAF, the RSF and the SPLM-N (al-Hilu).[450]

On 25 July, following a meeting in

Forces for Freedom and Change, the National Movement Forces, the National Accord Forces, and the National Forces Alliance, called on al-Burhan to form "a caretaker government" as soon as possible to rule the country during the war and promote dialogue.[451]

On 30 July, nurses of the Port Sudan Teaching Hospital Emergency Department went on strike in protest over the non-payment of salaries since the beginning of the conflict, forcing the closure of the hospital since then after other departments joined.[452]

In response to calls by SPLM-N faction leader and Transitional Sovereignty Council Deputy Chair Malik Agar to support the SAF, the Sudanese Communist Party called on upon "the tribes and people of Sudan to resist calls for recruiting their youth to favour either of the warring parties" in a statement released on 6 August. Other political groups such as the Forces for Freedom and Change-Central Council and the Sudan Revolutionary Front also expressed their rejection of the conflict and said on 7 August that they had positioned themselves "equidistant" from both the SAF and the RSF.[453]

International

Palestine
.

On 19 April 2023, diplomatic missions in Sudan, which included those of Australia, Canada, Japan, Norway, South Korea, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union (France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, and Sweden), issued a joint statement calling for fighting parties to observe their obligations under international law, specifically urging them to "protect civilians, diplomats and humanitarian actors," avoid further escalations and initiate talks to "resolve outstanding issues".[454]

Many countries condemned the violence and called on the warring sides to cease fighting and resume the

democratic transition,[455][456][457] while Egypt, South Sudan and Israel offered to mediate between the SAF and the RSF.[458][459] Several of Sudan's neighbors, including Chad, Egypt and South Sudan closed their border with Sudan,[69][460][461] while Eritrea said it would not establish refugee camps for those crossing its border from Sudan.[462]

International organizations also echoed demands for an end to the fighting and the restoration of civilian government.[463][464][465]

In late 2023 and in 2024, diplomats were named specifically to deal with the crisis by the U.S. (Tom Perriello),[466] the U.N. (Ramtane Lamamra),[467] the African Union (Mohamed Ibn Chambas),[468] and the IGAD (Lawrence Korbandy).[469][470]

A call for a Ramadan truce initiated by the UN, the US, the African Union, and the League of Arab States was initially praised by al-Burhan but was subsequently criticised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.[471]

In an op-ed published on 8 April 2024, European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell called upon the two belligerents to cease the deliberate delay of food and aid convoys and to negotiate. He announced a conference in Paris on 15 April 2024 to raise humanitarian aid and call for a ceasefire. After identifying what he termed "external sponsors"—such as the UAE, Iran, and Russia—as providing financing and arms which were exacerbating the conflict, he added that "the genocidal atrocities against civilians based on their ethnicity that put Sudan in the headlines in 2003 have resumed", and called upon the UAE to use its leverage with the RSF to help end the war.[472]

See also

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