Number of internally displaced in Sudan rises to over 700,000, as death toll reaches 604

The death toll from the ongoing clashes in Sudan has risen to 604 people. Credit: AP

Heavy fighting in Sudan has led to 700,000 people being internally displaced since the middle of April, the United Nations has said.

The UN revealed on Tuesday that the figure had doubled in a week, as ceasefire talks continue to be held in Saudi Arabia.

Sudan has been plunged into chaos since fighting erupted in mid-April between the country's two rival top generals and there is increasing concern for those trapped and displaced by the fighting.

The death toll from the ongoing clashes has also risen to 604 people, including civilians, according to the UN health agency.

More than 5,100 people were also wounded in connection with the fighting, World Health Organization spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic told reporters.

Yemeni evacuees disembark Saudi HMS Abha ship, coming from Port Sudan, after docking at Jeddah port in Saudi Arabia. Credit: AP

On Monday, the Sudanese Doctors’ Syndicate, which tracks only civilian casualties, said that the fatalities had reached 487.

The new figures come as representatives of the warring parties are holding talks in Saudi Arabia.

The conflict started on April 15, after months of escalating tensions between the military, led by General Abdel-Fattah Burhan, and a rival paramilitary group called the Rapid Support Forces, or RSF, commanded by General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo.

The fighting has displaced nearly 700,000 people on top of the 3.7 million who had already been internally displaced within the country before the conflict began, according to the UN migration agency.

On Monday, the Saudi Foreign Ministry said that talks between delegations of both warring sides were expected to continue for a few more days in the coastal city of Jeddah.

A baby has their arm measured to check for malnutrition at a refugee camp for people who crossed from Sudan. Credit: AP

The talks are part of a diplomatic initiative proposed by the kingdom and the United States in hopes of ending the fighting.

Meanwhile, General Burhan accused the RSF of using residential neighborhoods as their military bases and civilians as human shields.

In an interview late on Monday with an Egyptian TV channel, Al-Qahira Al-Akhbariya, he insisted they must withdraw all their troops from the capital, Khartoum, before any truce agreement can be reached.

“If this is not achieved, there will be no point in going to Saudi Arabia, or engaging in any negotiations,” he said.

“We won’t go ahead with any initiative that does not bring back normalcy and ensure the safety of our citizens.”

The RSF has not responded to Burhan's statement.

The UN special envoy for the Horn of Africa said the conflict is “profoundly” affecting Sudan's relations with neighbouring South Sudan.

Hanna Serwaa Tetteh told the UN Security Council that the unstable situation has “the potential for more than 200,000 South Sudanese refugees hosted by the Sudan returning home prematurely to a country where two-thirds of the population already needs humanitarian assistance.”

Before the conflict in Sudan erupted, Ms Tetteh said, relations between Sudan and South Sudan were stable and there were regular meetings between officials of both countries, including at the highest level.

The 50-year-old Nile crocodile is feared dead or missing in Khartoum, Sudan. Credit: AP

But she added: “The conflict in the Sudan is putting the incremental progress achieved by the two countries in addressing their outstanding bilateral issues in jeopardy.”

Meanwhile, dozens of zoo animals in Sudan's capital - including an elderly crocodile, parrots and giant lizards - are feared dead after street battles between the country's rival forces made the location unreachable.

At least 100 animals, all kept inside enclosures, will have gone more than three weeks without food or water, said Sara Abdalla, the head zoologist at the zoo, which is part of the Sudan Natural History Museum.

“I feel a great deal of misery and sadness, as well as helplessness,” she said in a telephone interview from Khartoum. “I have assumed that we lost the birds and mammals.”

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