The war between rival militaries in Sudan, which has been raging for over seven months has further intensified in recent weeks, particularly in the volatile Darfur region, a senior UN official said on Thursday.
The briefing came on the same day as Khartoum asked the Security Council to immediately terminate the UN mission in the country.
Sudan’s military government wrote in a letter addressed to the UN chief and circulated to the Council – which provides each UN peacekeeping or political country mission with its mandate – that while calling for the withdrawal, it was committed to constructive engagement with the UN.
In requesting the UN’s withdrawal, Sudan has become the latest African nation to request the pull back of UN missions this year, following on from Mali and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
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Martha Ama Akyaa Pobee, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Africa, informed ambassadors on the Security Council that the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have gained territory, pushing the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) out of several of its bases in the region since late October.
The RSF seems poised to advance on El Fasher in north Darfur, a major town and the last SAF holdout in the region, according to media reports.
“An RSF attack on El Fasher or its surrounding areas could result in high numbers of civilian casualties, due to the large number of internally displaced persons located there,” Ms. Pobee said.
She told Council members that some armed groups in the region, which had so far been neutral in the conflict, have allied with the SAF.
Outside of Darfur, clashes continue in Khartoum, Omdurman and Bahri, with the main fighting taking place around SAF strongholds. Hostilities are also spreading into new areas, including Gezira, White Nile and West Kordofan states, she added.
Since April the conflict has caused a severe humanitarian crisis and increasing human rights violations in Sudan, resulting in the deaths of over 6,000 civilians, including women and children.
Across the country, over 7.1 million people have been driven from their homes, as hundreds of thousands moved into neighbouring countries.