Thousands of people are fleeing Wad Madani, Sudan’s second city, as the conflict between the Sudanese army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) intensifies. Wad Madani, which initially served as a refuge for many displaced people from the capital city, Khartoum, is now experiencing armed confrontations, looting, and reports of damage to banks and markets.
Armed groups and citizens are involved in the unrest, leading to a rise in transportation costs and fuel prices.
The conflict reached Wad Madani, the capital of el-Gezira state in central Sudan, known for Africa’s largest agricultural scheme, on Friday. Witnesses have observed people leaving the city on buses, with others walking southwards. Reports indicate that residents are hiding in their homes due to intense street fighting, and some are trapped inside.
There are also reports of heavy artillery and fighter jets over the city, contributing to the worsening situation. The army has closed a bridge connecting the cities of Al Hasahesa and Rufaa to the north of Madani.
Despite recent commitments to a ceasefire in Djibouti, the army bombed Neyala, the capital of South Darfur state, killing numerous people, including civilians. RSF now controls Neyala, and three other major states have fallen under RSF control, leaving only North Darfur under army control.
Several aid organizations have suspended their operations in Madani, previously a hub for humanitarian work following the outbreak of conflict in Khartoum. The Norwegian Refugee Council has paused its work in Wad Madani, redirecting emergency response teams to areas where displaced people are seeking refuge.
The situation is causing immense distress, as those who fled urban warfare and airstrikes in Khartoum are once again facing conflict in what they believed was a safe place.
Clashes have also resumed in El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur state, the last city still under army control. The Abo-Shook camp for internally displaced people (IDP) has witnessed violence, resulting in injuries, including children.
Residents of Fasher express that they have not seen such violence since the start of the war in April. The RSF, led by Commander Abu Agla Mohamed Ahmed Kaikel, has recruited fighters from the eastern Nile region, close to Wad Madani, and is implicated in the recent attack on the city.