Arson fires in Sudan consumed about 72 villages last month

Fires caused by fighting in Sudan

 destroyed 72 villages and settlements last month, according to UN human rights sources.

Investigators of the “Sudan

 Witness” project, an open-source initiative managed by the non-profit Information Resilience Center, say that the number of fires ignited last April surpasses any other month since the war erupted in mid-April 2023. The latest toll raises the total number of fires in the country since the outbreak of fighting between the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces to 201, with no analysis provided on fire casualties. Rapid Support Forces often deliberately use fires in warfare, setting entire villages ablaze, especially in Darfur, western Sudan. The Information Resilience Center notes a sharp increase in fire incidents, particularly north and west of El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur state, which faces an imminent attack. El Fasher witnessed intense fighting between the Sudanese army and quasi-military Rapid Support Forces and their allies on Friday, resulting in at least 27 deaths and dozens injured, with over 800 others displaced, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). The Sudanese army launched an airstrike the following day, hitting an area near a children’s hospital in El Fasher, killing two children and a caregiver, according to Doctors Without Borders. In its analysis, the Information Resilience Center estimates that 31 settlements – villages and towns – were affected by fires in April, destroying over fifty percent of these settlements. Anouk Theunissen, director of the Sudan Witness project, stated, “We have documented numerous patterns of fires and ongoing destruction of settlements in western Sudan, large and small, since the conflict erupted in April last year.” She added, “When we see reports of fighting or airstrikes coinciding with close clusters of fires, it indicates that fires are being used as a weapon in warfare indiscriminately, exacerbating this trend and causing mass displacement of the Sudanese people.” Conflict in Sudan erupted when tensions between the Sudanese army and Rapid Support Forces escalated into violent clashes in Khartoum, the capital, in April last year. The clashes quickly spread to other parts of Sudan, including Darfur, which has witnessed brutal attacks.

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