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Conflict in Sinja, Sennar State

Flash Update No: 02  |  4 July 2024


Over 136,000 people flee Sennar as conflict between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces spreads across the state.

Conflict in Sinja has significantly exacerbated civilian suffering and increased violations of international humanitarian law.

Civilians are now facing multiple protection risks and have reported widespread looting of their homes and personal possessions.

People fleeing Sinja Town have arrived in Gedaref, Blue Nile, and Kassala states.

Humanitarian partners in states receiving displaced people from Sennar State are scaling up response to meet their needs.

OCHA and cluster leads in Blue Nile plan to conduct an inter-agency assessment of IDPs from Sinja in Ed Damazine and Ar Rusayris localities.


Clashes between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) continue in Sinja Town, Sinja locality and have spread to Sennar Town, Sennar locality.

Since 24 June 2024, an estimated 136,000 people have been displaced from various locations across Sennar State following armed clashes between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), reports the International Organization for Migration Displacement Tracking Matrix (IOM DTM). Sennar, Sinja, and Ad Dinder localities were already hosting about 286,000 displaced people before the recent escalation in clashes, the majority of whom had already been displaced from Khartoum or Aj Jazirah. Therefore, people displaced from Sennar may be experiencing secondary or tertiary displacement.

On 2 July 2024, clashes were reported in Sinja Town, Sinja locality; in Ad Dinder Town, Ad Dinder locality; and in Sennar Town, Sennar locality. IOM field teams report increased displacement from these towns, as well as from the neighbouring localities of Abu Hujar and As Suki due to security concerns. People from Sennar, Sinja, Ad Dinder, and As Suki localities have taken refuge in Ar Rahad and Madeinat Al Gedaref localities in Gedaref State; as well as to Kassala, Red Sea, and River Nile states. Some people from Sinja and Abu Hujar localities fled to Ed Damazine locality in Blue Nile State, while others took refuge in Aj Jabalain locality in White Nile State. 

Additionally, IOM DTM received preliminary information that on 2 July, an unconfirmed number of families were displaced from locations across Al Mafaza, Ar Rahad, and Galabat Ash-Shargiah localities in Gedaref State, reportedly due to increased security concerns about the situation in Sennar State. The affected families were reportedly displaced to locations within Madeinat Al Gedaref locality.

The displacement from Sennar is taking place at a time when the state governments in Kassala, Gedaref, and Red Sea are reopening schools and relocating internally displaced persons (IDPs) from schools to other school buildings and gathering sites. It is also the start of the rainy season, and poor living and sanitation conditions at IDP sites could lead to disease outbreaks.

OCHA is coordinating the response with state authorities, state HAC, and humanitarian partners through daily meetings, mapping of stocks, documenting the response and identifying gaps.

Protection concerns: The conflict in Sinja has significantly exacerbated civilian suffering and increased violations of international humanitarian law. Civilians are now facing multiple protection risks and have reported widespread looting of their homes, cars, and personal belongings, reportedly by RSF, amidst the escalating conflict. In addition, shops and local markets have also been looted, leaving civilians without access to essential resources and heightened insecurity.

According to local reports, the Sinja Teaching Hospital has been occupied by RSF and patients and staff are allegedly being used as human shields. Loss of access to the hospital has critically hampered medical services and has put civilians—particularly vulnerable groups such as women, children, and the elderly—at increased risk of violence, exploitation, and abuse. Humanitarian partners have received reports of dozens of unaccompanied children in the streets and missing children.

Situation in Gedaref State
About 26,000 people (5,000 families), including 6,800 children, have reportedly arrived in Gedaref from Sennar, according to Hiyad—a national local charity organization working in Gedaref. The OCHA team in Gedaref reports thousands of people are arriving in the state and are gathering at Al Sug Al Shaabi (market). The displaced people are arriving with few possessions and are in urgent need of food, water, and shelter. There are no sanitation facilities in the area. Rains on 3 July forced the IDP women and children to huddle under trucks to get out of the rain. This is the first wave of displacement of people who were able to pay for transportation or have private vehicles. The second wave of displacement is expected to include people initially displaced from Khartoum, Aj Jazirah, Darfur and Kordofan to Sennar who have few resources and need time to arrange transportation costs.
On the night of 3 July, the relocation process of displaced people from Al Suq Al Shabi to a new reception centre at Minah Al Berih, at the entrance of Gedaref State, has started. Displaced people arriving in Gedaref are now being directed straight to the Minah Al Berih reception centre. The state government in Gedaref has identified other reception centres across the state including Qariat Hanaan village—a village close to Tunaydba refugee camp—in Al Mafaza locality and Al Huri in Al Galabat Al Gharbyah locality. The location of a third site has yet to be determined. Overall, the priority needs of IDPs in Gedaref are shelter, food, NFIs, WASH and health services.

Response: At the gathering site (Al Sug Al Shaabi), Hiyad and the Zakat charity have distributed 6,000 ready meals to 2,600 families over the past couple of days. The UN Children’s Agency (UNICEF) and a local NGO are providing water assistance, but more assistance is required to meet increasing needs.

At the new reception centre at Minah Al Berih, UNICEF has distributed tarpaulins, installed water bladders, and is in the process of setting up latrines and starting child protection activities. Local charity organizations and residents have been distributing hot meals to the displaced people. The State Ministry of Health (SMoH) has been registering the new arrivals and Save the Children (SC) has identified a location for a mobile health clinic.

Planned response in Gedaref State: Humanitarian organizations in Gedaref will provide shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), food and nutrition assistance and have enough supplies to assist about 100,000 people. The government’s Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) in Gedaref will activate volunteer and youth groups trained by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to register IDPs in four localities in the state. The international NGO Solidarités International (SI) will provide tarpaulins, plastic mats, emergency shelter toolkits, and kitchen sets. In addition, SI will provide sanitation and water supplies. IOM will provide non-food item (NFI) kits for 18,000 people. WFP currently possesses food stock and nutrition supplies (plumpy doz) to meet the needs of 50,000 IDPs and will bring in more stocks as needed. The SMoH has put together medical personnel, doctors, and nurses on standby to provide medical consultations and treatment. UNICEF is working with the SMoH to conduct amid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) screening and will provide nutritional supplies. UNICEF will also provide WASH supplies including water storage bladders; jerry cans for 400 families; chlorine for the chlorination of water; latrine slabs; and latrine tarpaulin sheets. Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) will provide WASH supplies including tents; soap; hygiene kits latrine cleaning kits; and multi-purpose cash for 3,600 people. CARE will also provide WASH supplies including plastic slabs; plastic sheets; and WASH kits. NRC, Danish Refugee Council (DRC) and Save the Children Fund (SCF) plan to conduct a one-day assessment before providing multi-purpose cash assistance. UNHCR and its partners will ensure that IDPs have access to available protection services, including the emergency referral pathway with Child Protection (CP) and Gender-Based Violence Area of Responsibility (GBV AoR); identify persons with specific needs; map protection desks; provide displaced people access to Psychological First Aid (PFA); coordinate raising-awareness sessions on protection issues; support protection monitoring; and strengthen community structures.

Situation in Kassala State
Humanitarian partners in Kassala will support IDPs living in the reception centre as well as new IDPs arriving in the state. The state government has identified a new temporary reception centre (Alsinaiya School) for hosting new IDPs from Sennar State. After few days in the temporary centre, the displaced people will be taken to the new Alkarama gathering site, where partners will provide assistance. IDPs taking refuge in school buildings will also be moved to Alkarama gathering site.

On 3 July, humanitarian partners visited the reception centre where about 1,000 displaced people (200 families) had arrived from Sennar state. It is estimated that between 300 to 500 people (60 to 100 families) are arriving daily. An unknown number of displaced people have arrived in Kassala and are being hosted by friends or relatives.

Response at the temporary gathering site (Alsinaiya School): IOM is providing health and referral services through a mobile clinic at the temporary reception centre in Alsinaiya School. A local youth initiative is managing a common kitchen that is providing hot meals to the new arrivals. The World Food Programme (WFP) is supporting the kitchen with food items, enough for 15,000 people. UNICEF and the charity organization Sadagaat, are trucking in water and have rehabilitated the water supply connection, nine latrines, five showers, and are desludging septic tanks at the reception centre. About 90 additional latrines are needed to cope with the influx of displaced people. UNICEF has also established a temporary primary healthcare clinic at the reception centre that provides medical consultations, laboratory services, psychosocial support and ambulance services in case of referrals.

Planned response in Kassala State: Clusters will provide a coordinated life-saving response (ready meals, water, protection, psychosocial support and referrals as required etc.) for displaced people arriving at the temporary reception centre at Alsinaiya School and will also support assistance at Alkrama gathering site.

At the temporary reception centre (Alsinaiya School) classrooms are already occupied by previously displaced people and the newly displaced people from Sennar are sitting under trees out in the open. WFP will provide two rub-halls—equipped with lights, mattresses, fans and a generator—one for women and children and one for men. WFP has also dispatched nutrition supplies to Alsinaiya and Al Haj Musa School reception sites. The supplies are enough to cover the needs of 2,000 children and pregnant and nursing women. The Protection Cluster recommended setting up a protection desk to work with the Sudanese Red Crescent Society (SRCS) registration team and provide protection services as needed. The Nutrition Cluster will carry out a MUAC screening targeting new IDP arrivals.

At Alkarama gathering site, the international NGO Welthungerhilfe (WHH)—in coordination with UNICEF—will address water needs and has committed to providing a minimum of 100 latrines. UNHCR will support two schools near the gathering site to provide access to education services for the IDP children. UNHCR, IOM and WHH will provide emergency shelter and NFI support. The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) has allocated funds to the SMoH for a mobile clinic that would also provide psychosocial support and support for pregnant women. 

Situation in Blue Nile State
Since 29 June 2024, Blue Nile State has been experiencing an influx of IDPs from Sinja and surrounding villages, with more IDPs reportedly on their way to the state, according to reports from protection partners. While Blue Nile remains safe, the primary risk for the new IDPs is the lack of humanitarian assistance.

HAC in Blue Nile State estimated that over 30,000 displaced people have arrived in the state; however, this is yet to be verified. Most of the IDPs are being hosted in school buildings that already host IDPs, and new school buildings have been opened to accommodate the new arrivals. IOM DTM estimates that 5,000 people from Sinja have arrived in Ed Damazine, many on trucks and tractors. The influx of displaced people to Ed Damazine continues.

Response: WFP food distributions to newly arrived IDPs from Sinja in Ed Damazine are ongoing. UNICEF is providing WASH and nutrition services and is distributing dignity kits. WHO is providing health and nutrition services, while ADRA is providing Multi-Purpose Cash assistance and WASH services.

Planned response: Humanitarian partners in Blue Nile are focused on scaling up emergency response to support the new IDPs arriving in the state.  According to Protection partners, the conflict has negatively impacted the supply chain, as key roads are no longer accessible due to the insecurity. A rapid inter-agency assessment is planned to identify the needs of the new arrivals who have taken refuge in school buildings in Ed Damazine and Ar Rusayris towns. HAC has also identified a location for a new site to host the IDPs.

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