The Rapid Support Forces (RSF) announced that it took control of the command of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) First Brigade and the base of the paramilitary Central Reserve Police in Wad Madani, capital of El Gezira, yesterday. In Rufaa, two people were killed by the RSF.
According to witnesses and video images verified by Radio Dabanga, the RSF crossed the Hantoub Bridge yesterday morning and entered Wad Madani.
The RSF said “Our forces are advancing in the city,” while no official statement or comment was issued by the army about the ongoing developments in the capital of El Gezira. Some video clips on social media showed RSF soldiers celebrating.
The RSF’s advance into Wad Madani came after jubilant celebrations took place in the city because the SAF claimed to have repulsed the RSF on Sunday.
Warplanes reportedly continue to bombard RSF sites intensively. The RSF claimed that they succeeded in shooting down a MiG yesterday morning, but this was not confirmed by independent sources.
The battles between the Sudanese air force and large groups of RSF paramilitaries have caused mass displacement of people, especially from Wad Madani, towards western El Gezira and Sennar.
Mohallab Suleiman, member of one of the Sennar Emergency Committees, told Radio Dabanga that people fleeing Wad Madani were entering “critical humanitarian conditions” in Sennar.
Others fled to Blue Nile state and El Gedaref. They have been placed in schools that are not suitable housing, he said, explaining that “the buildings are dilapidated and do not have enough latrines.”
According to the International Organization for Migration’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM), approximately 14,000 – 15,000 people have been displaced from Wad Madani.
Over the weekend, many videos and photos of people leaving the city packed with bags and suitcases were posted on social media. They are fleeing, “just to get out of Wad Madani”, to other places in El Gezira or neighbouring states Sennar, Blue Nile, El Gedaref, and Kassala. On Monday, some social media posts claimed that people trying to flee Wad Madani were turned back by the RSF and told to stay in the city.
“The Public Health Emergency Operations Centre (PHEOC) and Health Emergencies and Epidemic Control staff of the Ministry of Health have self-relocated outside El Gezira and are working remotely to coordinate health emergency response,” the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported yesterday. “Wad Madani has served as a hub for humanitarian operations” since the war broke out in April. “This includes warehousing of large stocks of supplies dedicated to response in the state and when access is possible to the capital, Khartoum.”
In Rufaa, about 60 km north of Wad Madani, two people were killed and others were wounded in shooting by the RSF inside Rufaa Hospital yesterday morning, according to a statement by the Emergency Lawyers yesterday evening.
The RSF attacked Rufaa town, terrorised the residents, and stormed the hospital and opened fire inside it, killing two people and wounding others, the lawyers reported.
The Sudanese Doctors Syndicate named nurse Nader Zarroug as one of the people killed. Two doctors and another nurse from Rufaa Hospital are still missing.
Until Thursday, El Gezira was considered a safe haven by the hundreds of thousands of people who have fled and are still fleeing the violence in Khartoum. On Thursday morning, however, an RSF unit invaded Abu Gouta in the northwestern part of El Gezira. The paramilitaries plundered the Sudanese Agricultural Bank, took control of the town’s police station, and set up posts in several neighbourhoods.
On Friday evening, the authorities in El Gezira issued a curfew between sunset and sunrise, following attacks by the RSF on areas near Wad Madani.
At about 8:00 on Friday morning, fierce fighting between the RSF and the SAF broke out in the vicinity of Abu Haraz, about 10 kilometres north of Wad Madani. RSF paramilitaries also attempted to infiltrate fuel and gas depots in the area of Um Alila village, east of the city.
Yassir Arman, the founder of the SPLM-N-Democratic Revolutionary Movement, raised concerns about the alarming reports of detentions on ethnic and geographical grounds having surfaced recently, and the potential of this “conflict taking on an ethnic and societal dimension”. Arman condemned such arrests, urging Sudanese people to resist any attempt to escalate the conflict along ethnic and racial lines.
Internationally, the US State Department’s spokesperson issued a press statement on Saturday, urging the RSF to avoid targeting civilians and cautioning the Sudanese military against actions that jeopardise civilian lives.