Hundreds flee Khartoum district after shelling kills 19Wed, 06 Sep 2023 14:14:04 GMT

Hundreds of families fled on Wednesday from a Khartoum suburb where Sudanese army shelling killed 19 civilians the previous evening, activists and residents told AFP.The exodus adds to the almost 2.8 million already displaced from the Sudanese capital — whose pre-war population was around five million — since fighting began on April 15 between the Sudanese Armed Forces and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).”Hundreds of families are fleeing Ombada,” a district of Omdurman, Khartoum’s sister city across the Nile, a resident of the area said. The person asked for anonymity because of security reasons.Another resident, also declining to be identified, said “combat has intensified since Tuesday” and included air strikes on Wednesday.The Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) control the skies over Khartoum and have carried out regular air strikes while RSF fighters dominate the city’s streets.On Tuesday evening the Ombada resistance committee said the army had “bombarded the paramilitaries with artillery and drones”.”These rounds missed their targets and 19 civilians were killed,” the committee added in a statement on Facebook.Such committees once organised pro-democracy rallies but now provide a range of community assistance and relief during the war.The RSF has for years had bases in residential areas. But during the war the United States and Saudi Arabia, which earlier mediated unsuccessful ceasefires, accused the paramilitaries of occupying “civilian homes, private businesses, and public buildings”, some of which were looted.The US-supported Sudan Conflict Observatory has said the SAF “would still be required to ensure that civilian harm is minimised regardless of whether a target has been made a legitimate military target.”On Wednesday, residents in various districts of the Khartoum area reported fighting between SAF, led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and the RSF headed by General Mohamed Hamdan Daglo.The latest casualties come after 20 civilians died at the weekend in what activists said was an air strike in Khartoum’s south.The war had already killed around 5,000 people, according to data from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED).More than 4.8 million have been internally displaced or fled to neighbouring countries, says the UN, which expects those numbers to rise further.On Monday it more than doubled its aid appeal, which is now at $1 billion, to assist nearly two million people expected to flee Sudan for five neighbouring countries by the end of this year.