Darfur update: Minawi is back in El Fasher and redeploys troops, cautious calm in Nyala

The market in Nyala on April 30, a moment of relative calm and normal daily life gradually resumed. The city would witness more clashes and looting after. (social media)

EL FASHER / NYALA – May 9, 2023

Governor of the Darfur Region Minni Minawi returned to Darfur yesterday after failed negotiations and redeployed his troops in the region. In South Darfur capital Nyala, residents have fled to Southern neighbourhoods amidst rumours of imminent attacks. Yet, the situation remains cautiously calm for now.

The Darfur region authorities said in a press statement yesterday that Minawi left the Sudanese capital for El Fasher yesterday, despite the critical security conditions, after efforts to stop the war and alleviate the difficult humanitarian situation in Khartoum and other Sudanese cities failed.

Minawi is also the leader of a Sudan Liberation Movement breakaway faction (SLM-MM), who signed the Juba Peace Agreement (JPA) alongside other rebel movements, and a member of the FFC-Democratic Block, a split-off faction of the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) that contains other former rebel movement leaders as well.

According to the statement, Minawi “sought with his comrades of the Juba Peace Agreement Block to stop the absurd war and to invite the warring parties to meet for an intra-Sudanese dialogue to resolve all national issues peacefully through dialogue, but the conditions in the country prevented that”.

‘I do not support either of the two parties to the conflict’

– Gov Minawi

In a press conference after his arrival in El Fasher, capital of North Darfur, Minawi said: “I do not support either of the two parties to the conflict.” “Our good offices in the Peace [JPA] and Democratic Blocks will continue to attempt to stop the damned war in the country”.

Minawi’s troops in Darfur

Various Sudanese news outlets just reported that Minawi ordered his troops to Darfur without saying where exactly or why.

Minawi’s SLM forces have a military presence in the Sudanese capital according to an October 2020 peace agreement with the government and have so far taken a neutral position in the conflict between the RSF and SAF.

The 300 heavily armed military vehicles that Minawi took with him to Darfur had been stationed in northern Omdurman “to protect the SLM-MM leaders” after signing the peace agreement.

The redeployment of Minawi’s forces in Darfur comes at a time of fears of intercommunal clashes and of a revival of the tribal and political tensions that underpinned the Darfur civil war and led to genocide.

Cautious calm in Nyala

The capital of South Darfur is witnessing a cautious calm, although sounds of gunfire from light and medium weapons continue from time to time for unknown reasons, Radio Dabanga’s correspondent reported from the city.

Clashes between the RSF and SAF broke out in Nyala over the weekend.

“The sounds of ammunition have become an obsession for the people, especially women and children,” the correspondent said. Some sources suggested that the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) sometimes shoot from the fortifications they have set up in the city.

Many residents of Nyala, especially from the northern parts of the city, left their homes to seek safety in the southern neighbourhoods in the past two days after rumours of imminent battles. Other families left Nyala altogether and sought refuge in the areas of El Salam, Ed El Fursan, Rahed El Bardi, Buram, and Gereida.

‘The sounds of ammunition have become an obsession for the people’

– RD correspondent

“The markets in Nyala are clearly affected by the violence as a large number of merchants closed their shops out of fear of the thefts and looting that accompany the battles between army soldiers and elements of the RSF,” especially in Darfur.

Nyala has witnessed significant looting since clashes between the RSF and SAF started. Local residents formed popular initiatives to secure their neighbourhoods, including barricading the streets.

Residents have reported that militia gangs are looting and mugging residents whilst staying in RSF camps and enjoying their protection.

Doctor Selma Takana, the representative of the director of the South Darfur branch of the National Health Insurance Fund, reported that 16 of the fund’s vehicles were stolen. Three health centres inside the university, the radiology department, and laboratories were severely damaged.

The Yashfeen Diagnostic Complex was also plundered and most of its medicines were stolen.


The prices of consumer goods in the city are steadily rising, day after day.

“The prices are rapidly rising because of scarcity as there are no more lorries coming from Khartoum with supplies. The people also suffer from a great lack of liquidity because the banks are closed, which exacerbates the living crisis day after day,” the correspondent explained.

The South Darfur Community Initiative is making continuous efforts to bring in a commercial convoy that has been stuck between Nyala and El Fasher since the outbreak of the war on April 15.

The Initiative is seeking sufficient guarantees from both the army and the RSF to safely open the banks and normalise life again in Nyala, which is the largest commercial hub in the west of the country.

Despite the lack of cash and scarcity of goods, South Darfur is managing to keep some of its health services running.

The South Darfur Health Ministry announced that the medicines currently still available can cover the state’s needs for a month.

Director of the Ministry Rehab Fathelrahman said in a briefing to the state’s Humanitarian Situation Committee, headed by West Darfur Governor Hamid El Tijani Hanoun, that the work in the Nyala Teaching Hospital, the Specialists Hospital, the Turkish Hospital, the Italian Hospital, the Police Hospital, and the Medical Corps has continued since the beginning of the war.

She also confirmed that efforts are being made to deliver quantities of medicine to Nyala that got stuck on the way.

Doctor Takana confirmed the stability of work in most of the National Health Insurance Fund centres in the 21 localities of South Darfur and reassured the state committee that there are medicines available to the National Health Insurance Fund that will contribute to covering the shortages in the hospitals. 

The health insurance centres, however, suffer from management problems. The salaries of the staff have been delayed.

Takana further said that activists in the neighbourhoods are exerting efforts to operate the El Wadi and the El Sad El Ali health centres.

El Fasher robbery

El Fasher also witness looting and theft and precarious healthcare conditions.

Passengers of a transport vehicle were subjected to an armed robbery in El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur, on Sunday evening.

One of the passengers told Radio Dabanga that the gunmen fired in the air and forced the passengers to get out of the car at gunpoint before robbing them of their belongings and stealing the vehicle’s fuel.

A number of residents have called on the North Darfur government and the Mediation Committee of Elders to intervene and resolve the deteriorating security situation in the city since the beginning of the fighting between the army and the RSF in the country.

The residents of El Fasher also suffer from frequent and long power outages, one of them told Radio Dabanga. “The electric current is cut off from six in the morning with a fluctuating return at night. This crisis will worsen in the coming days because of the lack of fuel trucks to feed the electricity generators”.

He added that the continuous power outages greatly affect the performance of hospitals and health centres and other important sectors in the city.