The Last Battle for Darfur: Alarms of Genocide

The paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have began to encircle El Fasher, the regional capital of North Darfur and the last remaining stronghold of the government in the entire Darfur region, after almost two weeks of fighting close to the city.

Alarm Bells Ringing

The UN, among other Sudanese and international human rights groups, have warned of an imminent attack upon El Fasher as RSF forces encircle the city. The RSF’s encirclement suggests a large, coordinated assault upon the city is soon to come in order to wrest the city from the control of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), and associated militias.

El Fasher is a city of approximately two million people. In addition to this, the city is reported to have around 500,000 internally displaced people (IDP), who have been displaced from combat around the country. The situation in the city is already dire, with many of the people there suffering from extreme hunger. In the Zamzam refugee camp, which lies nearby, it has been reported that one child dies every two hours. The camp, the largest of those in El Fasher, is completely unprotected.

International monitors have claimed that several hundred thousand civilians will be at immediate risk if an assault takes place upon the city.

Many of those within the city are fearful of an assault by the RSF. Fighting between the RSF and the SAF has reportedly already killed approximately 43 civilians since April 14th, when the RSF and SAF began clashing on the outskirts of the city. Both sides oftentimes rather indiscriminately bomb hostile targets, with the RSF launching mortar and artillery strikes towards the SAF that leads to civilian casualties, and the SAF doing the same in addition to air strikes and drone strikes that also often lead to civilian casualties.

A photo of soldiers of the Sudanese Armed Forces as they escort the governor of Darfur (Photo from AFP/Getty Images).

Civilians are also fearful of being killed if they attempt to leave the city, leaving them in a very difficult position to where many are unsure if they should attempt to flee once more, or remain in the city.

Fears of massacres and genocide carried out by the RSF have arisen with the fear of the assault. Darfur was the site of the Darfur genocide, which left several hundred thousand killed and, in some aspects, is ongoing. The RSF was a participant in this genocide, and has carried out a number of ethnic based attacks since the beginning of the present conflict, just over a year ago.

Seizing control of El Fasher would solidify RSF control over Darfur, which many fear would prompt them to continue genocidal action in greater capacity.

Alongside the SAF, several militias have declared their intent to defend El Fasher, swearing allegiance to the SAF. It is unclear if these militias bolstering the ranks of the SAF will be enough to prevent the capture of the city, however it is unlikely it will make a large enough difference if the RSF is successful in encircling the city.

A photo of the Joint Force in El Fasher, North Darfur on April 11th, 2024. The Joint Force is an association of militias in North Darfur that declared allegiance to the SAF amidst reports of RSF movements in the area earlier in April.

The war in Sudan began last year, on April 15th, 2023. Since its beginning, at least 14,000 people have been killed, however the death toll is likely significantly higher. Several million people have been displaced, and over 18 million in Sudan face hunger issues.

Sébastien Gray
Sébastien Gray
Sébastien Gray is a published journalist and historicist with over 5 years experience in writing. His primary focus is on East and West African affairs.


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