Sudan war: RSF blockade raises concerns for Zalingei camps

El Hasaheisa camp in Zalingei, Central Darfur (File photo: Radio Dabanga)

Concerns arise following reports that the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) shelled and blocked access to El Hasaheisa camp for the displaced in Zalingei, Central Darfur. Local sources yesterday reported an escalating death toll due to RSF bombings, exacerbating dire conditions in the camp. In nearby El Hamidiya camp, violence, medical shortages, and food scarcity compound difficulties for residents.

On Friday, Sherif Mohamed, a livestock trader, was killed by the RSF en route to El Hasaheisa camp in Zalingei, capital of Central Darfur. The US State Department said it is “concerned by reports the RSF has shelled and blocked all access into the Hasaheisa camp in Central Darfur”, in a statement published Wednesday.

Sheikh Abdelrazag Yousef, a community leader in El Hasaheisa camp, told Radio Dabanga yesterday that the death toll since September 24 “has reached 16 dead and 22 wounded due to RSF bombings”. The RSF has continued to besiege El Hasaheisa camp in Zalingei for about a month, “preventing food and water from entering”.

Reports indicate that the RSF detained nine people from El Hamidiya camp and 13 from El Hasahisa camp for their attempts to deliver essential provisions to the besieged El Hasaheisa camp. In one instance, “residents from El Hamidiya camp sent two bags with tools to repair water pumps in the besieged El Hasaheisa camp, but were intercepted by the RSF,” the sheikh said.

Humanitarian conditions in the camp are dire. Yousef described the situation as ‘catastrophic’ explaining that “no supplies have reached the camp for the past month, and current stocks are depleted.” He called on the international community to pressure the RSF to lift the siege on the camp.

El Hamidiya camp

Displaced people from El Hamidiya camp said that 21 people have been killed, and 17 injured in Hamidiya camp in Zalingei, Central Darfur, since the outbreak of the conflict, “with the most recent being a doctor killed this week by a gunshot to the head inside the camp”.

El Rashid Mohamed, a camp leader, told Radio Dabanga that 15 cases of rape involving displaced women have taken place since the outbreak of the conflict, adding that the perpetrators “wore RSF uniforms”. He also noted the absence of medicine in the camp’s healthcare facilities and the departure of foreign medical staff. “There is no water in the camp. We are forced to obtain water by carts from the Azum valley.”

People in the camp complain about malnutrition, malaria, and diarrhoea, as “no food rations have been distributed” since the outbreak of the conflict in April.

On September 1, Radio Dabanga reported that about 3,000 families had fled to the northern neighbourhoods of Zalingei and to El Hasaheisa and Hamidiya camps for displaced people in the outskirts of the city, fleeing SAF-RSF clashes.