Sudanese women’s movement warns of “catastrophic humanitarian crisis” from war

On December 15, as the war in Sudan completed 8 months, thousands of women’s human rights defenders (WHRDs) were forced to flee the city of Wad Madani south of Khartoum. Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitaries stormed the eastern part of the city, leading to the displacement of thousands of people, some of them for the second time. The city was the main refuge for thousands of people displaced by the war in Khartoum last April.

Wad Madani has been playing an essential logistical role for the humanitarian response to the crisis in Khartoum and other states. Many international NGOs, aid agencies and women groups which relocated operations to the city in the last 6 months are now forced to stop their work.

The attack on Madani is expanding the catastrophic humanitarian crisis in Sudan. Dozens of WHRDs who resided in the city are trapped inside or in the villages around Aljazeera.

RSF forces continued the patterns of looting houses and stores, while occupying civilians’ houses. These attacks on civilians led to horrific records of sexual violence in Khartoum. Women and girls in the areas controlled by RSF are at risk of sexual and gender-based violence, as the same scenario of house occupations is surfacing in some areas of Aljazeera state and east of Madani city.

Women and girls who took refuge in Aljazeera are facing the difficult choice of either becoming displaced again or remaining under fire and the possibility of RSF occupation. Dozens of WHRDs have been working from Aljazeera state since the war started and are once again in need of urgent relocation to safer places, as the war has reached the closest safe city to Khartoum.

The attack on Madani will disturb the services provided in the city to survivors of sexual and gender-based violence coming from Khartoum, including survivors of rape who access medical care in the city. Women and girls in Khartoum, who were planning to flee the violence towards Aljazeera state, will not be able to leave or move to the south or the east as the roads remain unsafe.

Hospitals, markets and main services in Madani, Rufaa and other areas of Aljazeera state are closed. Thousands of people in villages in eastern and northern Aljazeera are trapped, while the safe roads to flee Madani are limited and increasingly more dangerous. With spreading threats of the RSF moving toward Madani and expanding to other states northern of Khartoum, the Sudan crisis is entering a new phase of all-out war.

Despite warnings from international actors including the United States, RSF forces continued progressing into the cities and villages of Aljazeera. Thousands of women and WHRDs are at imminent risk, with limited resources to survive this attack and the threat of a second displacement for internally displaced persons who have resided in Al Jazeera since April.

We call on the fighting parties to halt hostilities and open safe corridors for civilians. High costs of transportation and shortage of fuel are forcing thousands to remain within fighting areas. The international community must act now to save protect civilians including women and girls and prevent the expansion of the conflict in Sudan.

Sudanese Women Rights Action

[Photo: UNHCR]

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