Dozens of families are fleeing violence in Sudan’s Blue Nile State, where continuing clashes between two tribes have killed at least 31 people, according to the state’s security committee and other officials.
At least 39 others have been wounded and dozens of shops were torched in the town of Roseires since the violence broke out on Monday over a land dispute between the Birti and Hausa tribes.
The clashes continued into Saturday afternoon despite the deployment of more troops in the region, according to the Sudan’s Doctors Committee, which tracks violence across the country.
“We need more troops to control the situation,” local official Adel Agar from the city of Al-Roseires told the AFP news agency on Saturday.
He also called for mediators to de-escalate tensions that have resulted in many “dead and wounded”.
The Sudan’s Doctors Committee said more injured were brought to hospitals on Saturday, amid a shortage of emergency and life-saving medicine in the province. It called on authorities in the capital of Khartoum to help evacuate injured people for advanced treatment.
Blue Nile governor Ahmed al-Omda issued an order Friday prohibiting any gatherings or marches for one month and a night curfew was imposed on Saturday.
The local government deployed the military and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) to bring stability to the region.
Clashes resumed Saturday after a brief lull, close to the state capital Al-Damazin on Saturday, witnesses said.
“We heard gun shots,” resident Fatima Hamad told AFP from the city of Al-Roseires across the river from Al-Damazin, “and saw smoke rising” from the south.
Al-Damazin resident Ahmed Youssef said that “dozens of families” crossed the bridge into the city to flee the unrest.
Hospitals launch urgent appeal
An urgent appeal for blood donations was launched by hospitals for the treatment of casualties from the unrest, according to medical sources.
A medical source from Al-Roseires Hospital told AFP the facility had “run out of first aid equipment”.
“Additional personnel” are needed, the source said, adding that the number of injured people is “rising”.
The violence broke out after the Birti tribe rejected a Hausa request to create a “civil authority to supervise access to land”, a prominent Hausa member told AFP on condition of anonymity.
But a senior member of the Birtis said the tribe was responding to a “violation” of its lands by the Hawsas.
The Qissan region and Blue Nile state more generally have long seen unrest, with southern fighters a thorn in the side of Sudan’s former strongman president Omar al-Bashir, who was deposed by the army in 2019 following street protests.
Experts say last year’s coup, led by army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, created a security vacuum that has fostered a resurgence in tribal violence, in a country where deadly clashes regularly erupt over land, livestock, access to water and grazing.
In April, tribal clashes killed more than 200 people in war-wrecked Darfur.
There have been sporadic outbreaks of violence in several regions of Sudan including eastern coastal regions and western Darfur, despite a nationwide peace deal signed by some rebel groups in 2020.
The most powerful faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, a rebel group active in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, did not sign the deal.
Sudan’s military seized power from a transitional, civilian-led government in October 2021, triggering mass anti-military protests that have continued for more than eight months.