The scope of the war, which has been going on for more than four months in Sudan, has expanded, with battles now reaching two major cities, El Fasher and Al Fulah, according to eyewitnesses on Friday, in a development that exacerbated fears about the fate of hundreds of thousands of displaced people who had fled to them from violence in the Darfur region.
Since the fighting broke out on April 15 between the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces, Darfur, the vast region in the west of the country, along with the capital, Khartoum, witnessed the worst violence.
On Thursday night, the fighting resumed in El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur state, according to witnesses, ending a two-month calm in the densely populated city, which was a haven for them from the bombing, looting, rape and extrajudicial executions witnessed in other parts of Darfur.
"It is the largest gathering of displaced civilians in Darfur, with 600,000 people seeking refuge in El Fasher," Nathaniel Raymond, director of the Humanitarian Research Laboratory at Yale University, told AFP.
For their part, AFP residents reported that violence broke out again in El Fasher late Thursday night. One of them reported hearing the sounds of "battles with heavy weapons in the east of the city".
Witnesses also reported hostilities in Al-Fula, the capital of West Kordofan state bordering Darfur.
The conflict has already spread to the state of North Kordofan, which is a center for trade and transport between Khartoum and parts of southern and western Sudan.
In this regard, one of the armed rebel movements called "Tamazuj" issued orders to its members on the border strip in the regions of Darfur and Kordofan to join the camps of the Rapid Support Forces.
"We officially announce our joining the fight with the Rapid Support Forces against the remnants of the former regime, who used the armed forces as a mount in order to reach power and reproduce the oppressive totalitarian regime," the movement said in a statement on Thursday.
Tamazuj was one of the movements that signed the historic peace agreement concluded in 2020 in Juba between the armed rebel groups in Sudan and the transitional civilian government that took power after the overthrow of former President Omar al-Bashir from power.
According to human rights groups and witnesses who fled Darfur, the region witnessed massacres committed against civilians, ethnically motivated attacks, and killings committed especially by the Rapid Support Forces and allied Arab tribal militias.
Many fled across the western border into neighboring Chad, while others sought refuge in other parts of Darfur, where suspected war crimes are being heard by the International Criminal Court.
This region has always been the scene of bloody battles since a war broke out in 2003, during which elements of the Janjaweed militia, which preceded the formation of the Rapid Support Forces, attacked rebels from ethnic minorities.
The fighting centered in the recent conflict in El Geneina, the capital of West Darfur, where the United Nations suspects that crimes against humanity have been committed.
It also spread to the city of Nyala, the capital of South Darfur state, to also become the center of the recent battles, while thousands of residents were reported to have fled.
In this context, the city's emergency room confirmed that it "is experiencing catastrophic humanitarian conditions that have exceeded all limits of expectation, after the deadly battles between the Rapid Support Forces and the army continued for the seventh day in a row."
"The clashes caused a large number of defenseless victims among citizens, and an infinite number of injuries and humanitarian violations, with all state hospitals out of service," the Chamber added in a statement on Friday.
On Thursday, the United States urged the two parties to the conflict to "stop the fighting that has renewed in Nyala ... and other populated areas, which has caused death and destruction."
"We are particularly concerned by reports of indiscriminate bombing by both sides," State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement.
"Every day this senseless conflict continues, more civilians are killed, injured and left without homes, food and sources of livelihood," he added.
Meanwhile, a resident of al-Fula reported that members of the "army and the Central Reserve clashed with the Rapid Support Forces, and government headquarters were burned during the battles."
Another witness in Al-Fula referred to "looting and looting of shops in the city market," stressing that "a number of deaths on both sides were not counted due to the continuation of the fighting."
Since its outbreak four months ago, the conflict has killed 3,900 people across the country, according to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED). .
In addition, a statement from Doctors Without Borders in South Sudan stated that this country has received more than 200,000 displaced people from western Sudan since the start of the war.
The organization added that "90 percent" of the displaced are mainly South Sudanese, and they had fled to Sudan to avoid the war in their country, but returned again "extremely exhausted and weak," noting "an alarming increase in measles cases among them."
Officials of 20 international humanitarian organizations confirmed in a statement Tuesday that "the international community has no excuse" for its delay in alleviating the suffering of the Sudanese population.
They said two appeals to help some 19 million Sudanese were funded "just over 27 percent. This situation needs to change."
The signatories to the statement noted that more than 14 million children are in need of humanitarian assistance while four million people have fled the fighting, whether inside Sudan or in neighboring countries.
With the advent of the rainy season in June, the risk of disease outbreaks has doubled, while damage to crops risks exacerbating food insecurity.
In particular, the United Nations expressed concern about the fate of women and girls in light of the "shocking spread of sexual violence, including rape."
"We have seen an increase in gender-based violence by more than 900 percent in conflict areas. These women face a very high risk," said Leila Bakr of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).