Sudan’s uprooted millions pay price for yearlong war

Sudanese refugees at a health center in the Koufroun refugee camp. Sudan’s war erupted in 2023, over a planned political transition under which the army and the RSF were competing to protect their interests. (AFP/Reuters)
Sudanese refugees at a health center in the Koufroun refugee camp. Sudan’s war erupted in 2023, over a planned political transition under which the army and the RSF were competing to protect their interests. (AFP/Reuters)
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Updated 14 April 2024
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Sudan’s uprooted millions pay price for yearlong war

Sudan’s uprooted millions pay price for yearlong war
  • Clashes have driven more than 8.5m people from their homes, creating a major displacement crisis

CAIRO: After fleeing from the war in Sudan to Egypt, Mohamed Ismail says his ambitions are limited to putting food in the mouths of his five children from a meager monthly salary of about $100 earned at a paper factory in Giza.

One 7-year-old son sleeps in his arms because of the trauma of hearing explosions before they fled from the outskirts of the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, in January.
A year of war between Sudan’s army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, also known as RSF, has driven more than 8.5 million people from their homes, creating the world’s largest displacement crisis and uprooting families multiple times as people struggle to escape to neighboring countries with economic and security problems of their own. Financial challenges have led some to return to the war-stricken capital.
“Being safe somewhere is the most important thing,” said Ismail, 42. “We’re not even thinking about education because the economic situation doesn’t allow that. As a parent that really impacts you, but we are helpless.”
Sudan’s war erupted on April 15, 2023, over a planned political transition under which the army, led by Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, and the RSF, led by Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti, were competing to protect their interests.
Fighting tore through the capital and unleashed waves of ethnically driven violence in the western region of Darfur, before spreading to other areas including Gezira state, an important farming region that became an aid hub where many had sought refuge.
When the RSF entered the state’s main city Wad Madani in December, looting and occupying neighborhoods as they had done in the capital, many were uprooted for a second time.
Ahmed, 50, who had fled with his wife and four children from the capital when the war began, said RSF troops pulled them from a car as they tried to escape Wad Madani in order to seize the vehicle.
They headed east to Al-Gedaref, where his 75-year-old mother-in-law died after the arduous, three-day journey. They then paid smugglers to go to Egypt, which suspended visa-free entry for women, children, and men over 50, as Sudanese poured across the border last year.
“Because of Al-Burhan and Hemedti, our lives were completely shattered. We lost everything we owned,” said Ahmed, speaking by phone from Cairo. He asked to be identified by his first name to avoid problems with Egyptian authorities.
Within Sudan, more than 3 million were already homeless from previous conflicts before the current war, mostly in Darfur, where the RSF and its allies have been accused of widespread abuses in violence over the past 12 months that they have blamed on their rivals.
Though parts of the country, Africa’s third largest by area, remain relatively unscathed, many displaced rely on charity as conditions worsen and nearly 5 million people face extreme hunger.
Sudan’s health system has collapsed, allowing outbreaks of diseases including measles and cholera. Aid agencies say the army restricts access for humanitarian relief, and what little gets through is at risk of looting in RSF-controlled areas.
Both sides have denied impeding aid efforts. But on the ground, volunteer-run “emergency rooms” linked to the pro-democracy networks from the uprising that toppled former leader Omar Bashir in 2019, have been left to provide minimal food rations and keep some basic services running.

Ismail Kharif, a 37-year-old farmer living in a camp for displaced people near El Fasher, capital of North Darfur, said people there were at risk from fighting and subject to reprisals by both sides if they tried to move, while being cut off from health care, regular food supplies, and phone networks.

Across the country in Port Sudan, tens of thousands have sought shelter under army control but wonder what lies ahead.

“You cannot imagine that one day you will be living like this,” said Mashaer Ali, a 45-year-old mother of three from the capital, living in a displacement center in the Red Sea city. “Is this reality?” she said. “It’s very, very difficult.”

The war has created “one of the worst displacement and humanitarian crises in the world, and one of the most neglected and ignored almost, although its implications, its repercussions and the suffering of the people are quite extraordinary,” Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, said in an interview.

 


UN Security Council demands halt to siege of Sudan city of 1.8 mln people

The United Nations Security Council on Thursday demanded a halt to the siege of Al-Fashir by the paramilitary RSF.
The United Nations Security Council on Thursday demanded a halt to the siege of Al-Fashir by the paramilitary RSF.
Updated 59 min 47 sec ago
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UN Security Council demands halt to siege of Sudan city of 1.8 mln people

The United Nations Security Council on Thursday demanded a halt to the siege of Al-Fashir by the paramilitary RSF.
  • Council adopted British-drafted resolution that also calls for the withdrawal of all fighters that threaten the safety and security of civilians in Al-Fashir

UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations Security Council on Thursday demanded a halt to the siege of Al-Fashir — a city of 1.8 million people in Sudan’s North Dafur region — by the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and an immediate end to fighting in the area.
The 15-member council adopted a British-drafted resolution that also calls for the withdrawal of all fighters that threaten the safety and security of civilians in Al-Fashir, the last big city in the vast, western Darfur region not under RSF control.
War erupted in Sudan in April last year between the Sudanese army (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), creating the world’s largest displacement crisis. Top UN officials have warned that the worsening violence around Al-Fashir threatens to “unleash bloody intercommunal strife throughout Darfur.”


Israeli forces kill three Palestinians, seize weapons in West Bank raid

Israeli forces kill three Palestinians, seize weapons in West Bank raid
Updated 13 June 2024
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Israeli forces kill three Palestinians, seize weapons in West Bank raid

Israeli forces kill three Palestinians, seize weapons in West Bank raid
  • The West Bank has seen a surge in violence since the outbreak of the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza
  • Troops surrounded a building where two gunmen were holed up, exchanging fire with them, the army said

QABATIYA, West Bank: Israeli forces raided a town in the occupied West Bank on Thursday, killing three Palestinians and detaining several others in what the army described as an operation to pre-empt militant attacks.
The West Bank, among territories where Palestinians seek statehood, has seen a surge in violence since the outbreak of the war between Israel and the militant Islamist group Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
During the raid in Qabatiya, troops surrounded a building where two gunmen were holed up, exchanging fire with them, the army said. The two Palestinians were killed and witnesses saw the body of one them being lifted out by an armored bulldozer.
A third Palestinian was shot dead by Israeli troops elsewhere in the town, medical officials said.
There was no immediate claim of the dead men by any armed Palestinian faction. The army described the two killed in the building as “senior terrorists” without elaborating, and added that weapons were seized in the raid.
Several Palestinians were detained by troops, who also “exposed explosives planted into roads which were intended to be used to attack the forces,” the army statement said.
A soldier was wounded during exchanges of fire, it added.


Iran expands nuclear capacities further: IAEA

Iran expands nuclear capacities further: IAEA
Updated 13 June 2024
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Iran expands nuclear capacities further: IAEA

Iran expands nuclear capacities further: IAEA
  • Tehran is installing more cascades at the enrichment facilities in Natanz and Fordow
  • A cascade is a series of centrifuges, machines used in the process of enriching uranium

VIENNA: Iran is further expanding its nuclear capacities, the UN atomic watchdog said Thursday, one week after the agency’s board of governors passed a resolution criticizing Tehran’s lack of cooperation with the IAEA.
The International Atomic Energy Agency informed its members that Tehran told it that it was installing more cascades at the enrichment facilities in Natanz and Fordow, according to a statement sent to AFP.
A diplomatic source deemed this development as “moderate.”
A cascade is a series of centrifuges, machines used in the process of enriching uranium.
The motion brought by Britain, France and Germany — but opposed by China and Russia — at the IAEA’s 35-nation board last week was the first of its kind since November 2022.
The resolution — which Tehran slammed as “hasty and unwise” — came amid an impasse over Iran’s escalating nuclear activities and as Western powers fear Tehran may be seeking to develop a nuclear weapon, a claim Iran denies.
Although symbolic in nature at this stage, the censure motion aims to raise diplomatic pressure on Iran, with the option to potentially refer the issue to the UN Security Council.
In the past, similar resolutions have prompted Tehran to retaliate by removing surveillance cameras and other equipment from its nuclear facilities and ratcheting up its uranium enrichment activities.
According to the IAEA, Iran is the only non-nuclear weapon state to enrich uranium to the high level of 60 percent — just short of weapons-grade — while it keeps accumulating large uranium stockpiles.
The IAEA has said that Tehran has significantly ramped up its nuclear program and now has enough material to build several atomic bombs.
The Islamic republic has gradually broken away from its commitments under the nuclear deal it struck with world powers in 2015.
The landmark deal provided Iran with relief from Western sanctions in exchange for curbs on its atomic program, but it fell apart after the unilateral withdrawal of the United States under then-president Donald Trump in 2018.
Efforts to revive the deal have so far failed.


Houthi opening of Taiz road raises hopes of end to blockades

Houthi opening of Taiz road raises hopes of end to blockades
Updated 13 June 2024
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Houthi opening of Taiz road raises hopes of end to blockades

Houthi opening of Taiz road raises hopes of end to blockades
  • Bus driver says the opening of Al-Houban road reminds him of the fall of the Berlin Wall
  • Yemeni government military officials urged the Houthis to unlock the seven city entrances that remain closed

AL-MUKALLA: The besieged Yemen city of Taiz was filled with jubilation on Thursday as people crossed into the city from Houthi-controlled areas for the first time in years.

In a surprise move, the Houthis opened a key road, raising hopes of an end to the militia’s blockade of Yemen’s main city after almost a decade.

The arrival of the first car from Al-Houban in Taiz sparked huge celebrations among hundreds of Yemenis, who crowded the government side of the city to wave the national flag and sing patriotic chants.

Abdul Kareem Shaiban, the head of the government’s delegation at talks with the Houthis, told Arab News that the opening of the Al-Houban-Taiz city road would alleviate over nine years of suffering for local residents. The move would connect the city to Taiz, Ibb, Sanaa, and other Yemeni centers, allow food and supplies to be delivered, and reduce travel costs.

“Today, we were relieved that our families, mothers, sisters and brothers arrived and exited Taiz after the opening of this road and that the family finally united after years of separation,” Shaiban said. He also called on the Houthis not to harass individuals who crossed into their area, to open the city’s remaining blocked exits, and to lift their siege altogether.

The Houthi militia laid siege to the city of Taiz in early 2015 after their forces were unable to seize control due to stiff opposition from Yemeni government troops and allied resistance fighters.

The group barricaded the city’s major exits, posted snipers and laid landmines to prevent civilians from leaving or entering. The blockade has forced more than two million civilians to use perilous dirt tracks to leave or enter the city.

Local and international relief and rights organizations have long chastised the Houthis for impeding the delivery of essential humanitarian supplies and products to the besieged city, driving people to starvation.

As well as the Al-Houban road, they have reopened a route connecting Marib with Sanaa via Al-Bayda and have committed to consider lifting blockades on additional restricted highways. 

Responding to the Houthi proposal, the Yemeni government in Taiz sent bulldozers to clear trees, dunes, and barriers, while deminers cleared landmines from its side of the route.

Abu Mohammed, a bus driver from Taiz, said the opening of the road reminded him of the fall of the Berlin Wall. He added that he could now travel to his mother and other relatives in the countryside in one hour instead of seven, the length of his journey while the road was closed.

“This is an extremely significant event. This year’s Eid (Al-Adha) will be very joyful since I’m bringing my family from the city to see my mother in the countryside,” he told Arab News joyfully.

Other Yemenis from Taiz residing overseas, including politicians, journalists, businesspeople, and activists, expressed similar excitement.

“Thanks to the productive efforts of all serious people, smiles returned today to brighten the faces of the residents of Taiz, with the reopening of the major artery,” Shawki Ahmed Hayel Saeed, a prominent businessman from Taiz, said on X.

At the same time, Yemeni government military officials urged the Houthis to unlock the seven city entrances that remain closed and allow large vehicles carrying food and other supplies to enter the city via the newly opened route.

“This is a partial lifting of the siege on Taiz because the militia only allowed small cars and pedestrians to enter or leave Taiz through this road and does not yet allow trucks or food supplies to enter the city,” Abdul Basit Al-Baher, a Yemeni military official in Taiz, told Arab News.


Short circuit caused fire in Kuwait building housing foreign workers: fire service

A picture shows a building which was engulfed by fire, in Kuwait City, on June 12, 2024. (AFP)
A picture shows a building which was engulfed by fire, in Kuwait City, on June 12, 2024. (AFP)
Updated 13 June 2024
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Short circuit caused fire in Kuwait building housing foreign workers: fire service

A picture shows a building which was engulfed by fire, in Kuwait City, on June 12, 2024. (AFP)
  • Those killed were mostly Indians, and the Indian Minister of State for External Affairs Kirti Vardhan Singh was received by his Kuwaiti counterpart on Thursday

RIYADH: Kuwait’s fire service said on Thursday that an electrical short circuit caused the blaze that killed 50 people in a building housing foreign workers on Wednesday.

The fire broke out around dawn on Wednesday at the base of the block housing nearly 200 workers in the Mangaf area, south of Kuwait City.

Those killed were mostly Indians, and the Indian Minister of State for External Affairs Kirti Vardhan Singh was received by his Kuwaiti counterpart Sheikh Fahad Yusuf Saud Al-Sabah on Thursday.

Sheikh Fahad expressed his condolences over the tragic incident and Singh thanked Kuwait and its Emir Sheikh Meshal Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah for the help and support extended to the families of those killed and injured in the blaze. 

Kuwaiti authorities said earlier on Thursday that three people had been detained for suspected manslaughter over the fire.