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.

 


Mediated Israel-Hamas talks on hostage deal expected next week, source says

Mediated Israel-Hamas talks on hostage deal expected next week, source says
Updated 6 sec ago
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Mediated Israel-Hamas talks on hostage deal expected next week, source says

Mediated Israel-Hamas talks on hostage deal expected next week, source says
The source declined to be identified given the sensitivity of the issue

JERUSALEM: Mediated negotiations between Israel and Hamas to reach a deal to free Israeli hostages held in the Gaza Strip are due to restart next week, an official with knowledge of the matter said on Saturday.
The decision to restart the talks, said the source, who declined to be identified by name or nationality given the sensitivity of the issue, came after the head of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency met with the head of the CIA and the prime minister of Qatar, which has been a mediator.
“At the end of the meeting, it was decided that in the coming week negotiations will open based on new proposals led by the mediators, Egypt and Qatar and with active US involvement,” the source said.

Yemen’s Houthis postpone release of 100 prisoners belonging to government forces

Yemen’s Houthis postpone release of 100 prisoners belonging to government forces
Updated 10 min 6 sec ago
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Yemen’s Houthis postpone release of 100 prisoners belonging to government forces

Yemen’s Houthis postpone release of 100 prisoners belonging to government forces
  • The Houthis, an Iran-aligned movement that controls part of the country, last released prisoners in April 2023
  • Yemen has been embroiled in years of civil war that has killed tens of thousands of people and left millions hungry

CAIRO: Yemen’s Houthis said they had postponed the release of around 100 prisoners belonging to government forces that had previously been announced to take place on Saturday.
A Houthi official said that the delay was because of “technical reasons,” adding the release would take place at another time.
The head of the Houthi Prisoner Affairs Committee, Abdul Qader Al-Murtada, said on Friday that the group would release more than 100 prisoners in what he called “a unilateral humanitarian initiative.”
The Houthis, an Iran-aligned movement that controls part of the country, last released prisoners in April 2023 in an exchange of 250 Houthis for 70 government forces.
Yemen has been embroiled in years of civil war that has killed tens of thousands of people and left millions hungry.
The Houthis are the de facto authorities in northern Yemen, while the internationally recognized government is represented by the Political Leadership Council, which took over power from Yemen’s president-in-exile.


Spain demands Israel comply with UN court ruling on Rafah, Britain criticizes order

Spain demands Israel comply with UN court ruling on Rafah, Britain criticizes order
Updated 25 May 2024
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Spain demands Israel comply with UN court ruling on Rafah, Britain criticizes order

Spain demands Israel comply with UN court ruling on Rafah, Britain criticizes order
  • Spanish government: Ruling by the International Court of Justice is legally binding
  • British government says ruling would strengthen Palestinian Islamist group Hamas

MADRID/LONDON: The Spanish government demanded on Saturday that Israel comply with an order by the top UN court to immediately stop its bombardment and ground assault on the Gazan city of Rafah.
It stressed that the ruling on Friday by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) was legally binding.
“The precautionary measures set out by the ICJ, including that Israel should cease its military offensive in Rafah, are compulsory. Israel must comply with them,” Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares wrote on X.
“The same goes for a ceasefire, the release of the hostages and access for humanitarian aid (to Gaza),” he said.
“The suffering of the people of Gaza and the violence must end.”
The British government, meanwhile, has criticized the World Court order, saying the ruling would strengthen Palestinian Islamist group Hamas.
“The reason there isn’t a pause in the fighting is because Hamas turned down a very generous hostage deal from Israel. The intervention of these courts — including the ICJ today — will strengthen the view of Hamas that they can hold on to hostages and stay in Gaza,” a UK foreign ministry spokesperson said late on Friday.
“And if that happens there won’t be either peace, or a two-state solution.”
In a case brought by South Africa alleging the Israeli assault on Gaza amounts to “genocide,” the ICJ ordered Israel on Friday to “immediately halt” the ground and air offensive in Rafah.
The operations began on May 7 despite international fears for the safety of the 1.4 million civilians trapped in the city.
The Hague-based ICJ, whose orders are legally binding but lack direct enforcement mechanisms, also ruled that Israel must keep open the key Rafah crossing with Egypt to allow “unhindered” humanitarian aid into Gaza.
And it urged the “unconditional” release of hostages taken by Hamas fighters during their October 7 attack in Israel.
Israel responded on Saturday by bombing Rafah and other parts of the densely populated Gaza Strip.
Spain is one of the European countries to have been most critical of Israel over the war in Gaza.
On Wednesday, Spain, Ireland and Norway said their governments would recognize a Palestinian state from next week.
Israel summoned their envoys to “reprimand” them for the decision and on Friday said it would ban Spain’s consulate in Jerusalem from helping Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.
The war in Gaza began after Hamas’s unprecedented October 7 attack, which resulted in the deaths of more than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.
Some 252 people were taken hostage, 121 of whom remain in Gaza, including 37 the Israeli army says are dead.
Israel’s retaliatory offensive has killed at least 35,857 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to data from the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry.


Israeli strike kills two Hezbollah fighters in Syria: monitor

Israeli strike kills two Hezbollah fighters in Syria: monitor
Updated 25 May 2024
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Israeli strike kills two Hezbollah fighters in Syria: monitor

Israeli strike kills two Hezbollah fighters in Syria: monitor
  • It was the third strike against Hezbollah targets in Syria in about a week

BEIRUT: An Israeli drone strike in central Syria killed two fighters from Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah movement on Saturday, a war monitor said.
“An Israeli drone fired two missiles at a Hezbollah car and truck near the town of Qusayr in Homs province, as they were on their way to Al-Dabaa military airport, killing at least two Hezbollah fighters and wounding others,” said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
It was the third strike against Hezbollah targets in Syria in about a week.
On Monday, Israeli strikes in the Qusayr area, which is close to the Lebanese border, killed eight pro-Iranian fighters, said Observatory, a Britain-based monitor with a network of sources in Syria.
At least one Hezbollah fighter was among those killed, a source from Hezbollah told AFP at the time.
Another strike, on May 18, targeted “a Hezbollah commander and his companion,” the Observatory said. It did not report any casualties.
Israel rarely comments on individual strikes in Syria but has repeatedly said it will not allow its arch-enemy Iran to expand its presence there.
Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes in Syria since the outbreak of the civil war in its northern neighbor, mainly targeting army positions and Iran-backed fighters including from Hezbollah.
The strikes have increased since Israel’s war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip began on October 7, when the Iran-backed Palestinian militant group launched an unprecedented attack against Israel.
Syria’s war has killed more than half a million people and displaced millions more since it erupted in 2011 after Damascus cracked down on anti-government protests.


G7 finance leaders to call on Israel to maintain Palestinian bank links

G7 finance leaders to call on Israel to maintain Palestinian bank links
Updated 25 May 2024
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G7 finance leaders to call on Israel to maintain Palestinian bank links

G7 finance leaders to call on Israel to maintain Palestinian bank links

STRESA: G7 finance leaders will call on Israel to maintain correspondent banking links between Israeli and Palestinian banks to allow vital transactions, trade and services to continue, according to a draft joint statement seen by Reuters on Saturday.
The statement, to be released at the end of a Group of Seven finance ministers and central bank governors’ meeting in northern Italy, also calls for Israel “to release withheld clearance revenues to the Palestinian Authority, in view of its urgent fiscal needs.”
The statement echoes a warning on Thursday from US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who said the failure to renew a soon-to-expire banking waiver would cut off a critical lifeline for the Palestinian territories amid a devastating conflict in Gaza.
“We call on Israel to take the necessary measures to ensure that correspondent banking services between Israeli and Palestinian banks remain in place, so that vital financial transactions and critical trade and services continue,” the draft statement said.
The G7 finance leaders also called for the removal or relaxation of other measures “that have negatively impacted commerce to avoid further exacerbating the economic situation in the West Bank.”