Sudan war: Singa battle leaves hundreds unaccounted for

Displaced people from Sennar at a reception centre in El Gedaref on July 3 (Photo: Lokuju Peter / OCHA)

The number of people who went missing during the mass exodus from the city, following its seizure by the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) has risen to 524. According to the Missing Persons Inventory Committee in Singa, the capital of Sennar state in southeastern Sudan, which received reports that 206 people became separated from their families during the exodus.

The Missing People Initiative, a civil society organisation active in documenting the missing since the war broke out between the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the RSF nearly 15 months ago, published statistics on Friday that detailed the number of missing people in Sennar since June 27, when the RSF invaded the state, leading to the first clashes with SAF near Jebel Moya.

According to the report, 206 people were reported missing. Of these, 95 are under the age of 18, including 34 under the age of five. 63 are between 20 and 35 years old, and the other large group consists of people older than 70.

The initiative noted that it is challenging to report accurate figures due to the scarcity of information caused by chaos, difficulties in movement to search for the missing, and continuous displacement to various areas without access to communication networks and the Internet.

As reported elsewhere today by Radio Dabanga, that the Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA Network) has reported a surge in cases of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), including rape, against women in Sennar and Singa.


The RSF took control of Singa in a ‘blitzkrieg’ on June 29 and continued towards El Souki and El Dinder in Sennar, Karkoj, and El Mazmoum in El Gedaref, as well as the Doba Bridge connecting Sennar with El Fao. Reports indicate that the SAF retook the area of El Dinder and the Doba Bridge on Wednesday, and that the RSF has withdrawn from El Souki and Karkoj.

In its latest flash update on the situation in Sennar on Thursday, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Sudan cited the IOM Displacement Tracking Matrix, which stated that since June 24, an estimated 136,000 people have been displaced from various locations following the RSF-SAF clashes in the state.

Sennar, Singa, and El Dinder localities were already hosting about 286,000 displaced people before the recent escalation in clashes, the majority of whom had been displaced from Khartoum or El Gezira. Therefore, people displaced from Sennar may be experiencing secondary or tertiary displacement, according to OCHA.

Community leader Muhand Arabi reported from Singa that the humanitarian situation is “more than catastrophic” as large waves of displacement are still ongoing.

“Thousands of displaced families have already crossed El Dinder River towards Abu Rakhm and El Hawata in El Gedaref. The exodus continues, and people are mostly walking east on dirt roads in the midst of heavy rains, while suffering from communication and internet outages.”

Regarding the situation in Singa, Arabi described it as “very bad with increasing cases of looting and robbery. Additionally, the health facilities in Sennar are suffering from power outages and fuel shortages. Mayerno, one of the largest towns that received the displaced, has been suffering from power outages for more than a week.”

People fleeing Singa painted a bleak picture of the situation on the road. A woman recounted on her Facebook page: “We spent six hours crossing El Dinder Bridge, which is no more than one metre wide, due to the traffic jam.” She added that people were driving their vehicles “like on the Day of Judgment” and said that the vehicles “are carrying people like animals.”

However, the majority of people fled on foot. “They left their homes in panic, without water or food. Many are surviving on dates and drinking water from the river and the canals.”