Nearly $1.5 billion in aid pledges from international donors were made on Monday for Sudan and the surrounding area, covering about half of the estimated requirements for a deteriorating humanitarian crisis that has displaced 2.2 million people. The war between the Sudanese army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) has caused mass displacement in the country’s other regions as well as deadly, recurrent attacks in the western region of Darfur.
While fighting in Khartoum has subsided since Sunday due to a 72-hour ceasefire, residents reported that looting increased as the fighting did, and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) claimed that gunfire had prevented the transfer of injured soldiers to hospitals. Residents of El Geneina, the most severely affected city in Darfur, have reportedly been trying to flee Arab militia attacks but face murder, rape, or detention as they attempt to cross the border into Chad on foot, according to witnesses and aid workers.
A fundraising conference in Geneva hosted by Germany, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt and the United Nations was meant to drum up pledges to support relief efforts that have been hampered by ceasefire violations, looting and bureaucratic controls.
Donors announced close to $1.5 billion in pledges, U.N. aid chief Martin Griffiths said, though it was not immediately clear if all the money was new or when it would be disbursed.
In the middle of April, tensions over a plan for a transition to elections under a civilian government that had international support erupted, sparking a war between the opposing military factions.
According to Sudan’s health minister, it has resulted in more than 3,000 fatalities and 6,000 injuries, but aid workers and witnesses claim that many more deaths are unaccounted for.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was especially concerned by ethnic violence in Darfur and reports of gender-based and sexual violence. U.N. human rights chief Volker Turk said his office had received reports of sexual violence against at least 53 women and girls, saying that some 18 to 20 women were raped in a single attack.
Turk said the RSF had been identified as the perpetrator “in almost all cases” and also named them in relation to looting, large-scale attacks in West Darfur and enforced disappearances, of which 394 cases had been reported in the Khartoum area alone.