Communication problems in Darfur as clashes continue

Displaced people are particularly vulnerable to heat stroke, as they often lack proper shelter from the sun (File photo: Hamid Abdulsalam / UNAMID)

EL GENEINA / ZALINGEI / NYALA – May 23, 2023


Communication is difficult in many parts of Darfur as communication infrastructure has been damaged in clashes. A complete communication blackout has cut West Darfur capital El Geneina off from the world for four days now, but refugees report heavy fighting.

In West Darfur capital El Geneina, where heavy fighting took place last week, a complete communication blackout has been reported with none of the three networks (Zain, Sudani, MTN) working in the past three days.

People who fled to Adré in Chad, about 400 metres from the Sudan-Chad border, reported hearing heavy shooting and shelling yesterday. There are concerns that thousands could have died in and around El Geneina since the conflict erupted.

The Women of Change organisation wrote on social media last week that a “Rwanda genocide scenario is happening now” in El Geneina.

According to Beam Reports, 85,000 people fled the town.

Residents fleeing El Geneina during a brief moment of calm last week (social media)

Zalingei

The resistance committees of Zalingei, the capital of Central Darfur, reported yesterday that the RSF have surrounded the city. Residents fear imminent attacks.

The AWAFY Sudanese Organisation, based in Zalingei, reported yesterday that civilians are facing attacks with no possibility to communicate or access care as general services and hospitals are out of service.

Nyala

In Nyala, the capital of South Darfur, communication has also been more difficult as fierce fighting between army soldiers and RSF paramilitaries led to the destruction of the El Sudani telecommunications tower and offices last week.

“Today we were finally able to reach the main site in Nyala, where we found that the tower and the yard where the generators are kept were burned, and so were three company cars,” the director of the Nyala branch of El Sudani tweeted yesterday.

Residents have been able to report sounds of gunfire and heavy weapons on the outskirts of the town via social media today.

A house damaged by gunfire in Nyala (social media)

Casualties

In a field report, the Sudanese Doctors Union indicated that 28 people were killed in Nyala in clashes between the army and the Rapid Support Forces in the past three days only.

Doctors Without Borders / Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) reported that a staff member died in the violence. “On Saturday, we lost a colleague, Fathelrahman Hasan Gasim Teirab, when a bomb struck his house in Nyala,” the organisation wrote. “Fathelrahman and two of his brothers passed away, while two of his sons were injured.”

The Darfur Bar Association (DBA) said that the number of civilians who died in Nyala as a result of the clashes since April 15 exceeds 100. Hundreds were wounded or went missing.

The shelling in the city caused partial and total destruction of more than 500 homes, the Darfur lawyers said in a statement yesterday.

Most of the city’s markets were plundered. Two large warehouses in the Nyala Grand Market were destroyed by cannons and guns.

The DBA said that the majority of looting actions reported in the markets are carried out by RSF soldiers.