Raging fighting in Sudan could prompt more than 800,000 people to flee to neighboring countries, the United Nations warned on Monday.
The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said it was now working with a projected figure of hundreds of thousands of people fleeing the violence that erupted in Sudan on April 15.
“UNHCR, together with governments and partners, is preparing for the possibility that more than 800,000 people will flee the fighting in Sudan for neighboring countries,” the agency’s head, Filippo Grandi, said in a tweet.
“We hope it doesn’t come to that, but if the violence doesn’t stop, we will see more people forced to flee Sudan in search of safety.”
Such planning figures do not mean that the UN necessarily expects this number of people to flee, but that it believes it is possible and is developing plans to meet the massive needs that may arise.
Grandi’s tweet, which has been verified by his office, came as shootings and explosions rocked the Sudanese capital again on Monday despite the latest truce formally agreed between the warring parties and amid warnings from the UN that it said which the humanitarian crisis had brought the country close to its “breaking point”. .
More than 500 people have reportedly been killed since fighting erupted between Sudanese army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, who commands the paramilitary rapid support forces.
The chaos and bloodshed, now in its third week, has sparked a mass exodus to neighboring countries including Egypt, Chad and the Central African Republic.
The latest figures from UNHCR teams on the ground show that at least 73,000 people have already arrived in these countries from Sudan, a spokesman said, adding that this figure included both Sudanese nationals and mainly foreign nationals. South Sudanese refugees returning home.
Sudan hosted 1.13 million refugees before the conflict began – one of the largest refugee populations in Africa – including some 800,000 from South Sudan.
The fighting has also triggered a mass exodus of foreigners and international personnel, with countries around the world launching frantic evacuations by land, sea and air.
Grandi’s estimate of the number of people who may eventually flee the violence marked a dramatic increase from last Tuesday, when UNHCR gave a forecast figure of 270,000 people fleeing to neighboring Chad and South Sudan.
Read all the latest news here
(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed)