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Sudan Death Toll Tops 2,000


FILE: In this May 18, 2019 photo, Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, head of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, speaks in Khartoum. Amnesty International said said on June 11, 2019, that the Rapid Support Forces have committed “war crimes and other serious human rights violations.”

KHARTOUM — Sudan's devastating war raged on into a third month Thursday as the reported death toll topped 2,000 and after a provincial governor was killed in the remote Darfur region.

As of today, the Sudan conflict has entered its third month.

"In our worst expectations, we didn't see this war dragging on for this long," said one Sudanese citizen, Mohamad al-Hassan Othman, who has fled his home in Khartoum.

Everything in "our life has changed," he told AFP. "We don't know whether we'll be back home or need to start a new life."

The fighting has driven 2.2 million people from their homes, including 528,000 who have fled to neighboring countries, says the International Organization for Migration.

In long-troubled West Darfur, the violence claimed the life of Governor Khamis Abdullah Abakar, hours after he made remarks critical of the Rapid Support Forces paramilitaries in a telephone interview with a Saudi TV channel.

The United Nations said "compelling eyewitness accounts attribute this act to Arab militias and the RSF", while the Darfur Lawyers Association condemned the act of "barbarism, brutality and cruelty".

Coup leader and Sudan army General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan accused his paramilitary enemies of the "treacherous attack", while the RSF denied responsibility and for its part said it condemned Abakar's "assassination in cold blood".

It said he was killed after being "abducted" from RSF protection, which "the governor had requested".

Sudan analyst Kholood Khair of the Khartoum-based think tank Confluence Advisory said in a tweet that the "heinous assassination" was meant "to silence his highlighting of genocide... in Darfur".

Khair added that it was unclear "what the red lines are anymore" and urged for international "action to protect the people of Darfur and elsewhere".

As the conflict rages on, U.S. and Saudi mediation efforts are at a standstill after the collapse of multiple ceasefires in the face of flagrant violations by both sides.

"We have been suffering and suffering and suffering the scourge of this war for two months," said a Khartoum resident, Soha Abdulrahman.

A record 25 million people - more than half the population - are in need of aid, according to the U.N., which says it has received only a fraction of needed funding.

Saudi Arabia has announced an international pledging conference for next week.

Many of the displaced have lost loved ones as well as "all their belongings and livelihoods", said Anja Wolz of aid group Doctors Without Borders.

The group, which runs mobile clinics for the displaced in Madani, 200 kilometers southeast of Khartoum, noted a "worrying increase" in people escaping the capital.

Darfur, one of the war's main battlegrounds, was already scarred by a two-decade conflict that left hundreds of thousands dead and more than two million displaced.

The Umma Party, one of Sudan's main civilian groups, said El Geneina, the capital of West Darfur state, had been turned into a "disaster zone," and urged international organisations to provide help.

The Darfur Lawyers Association reported that, in El Geneina, "cross-border militias supported by the RSF" had carried out "massacres and ethnic cleansing."