(Khartoum) A 72-hour ceasefire in Sudan between belligerents under the aegis of the United States is generally respected Tuesday in Khartoum, after 10 days of fighting which left hundreds dead and left dozens thousands of inhabitants at the start.
In the capital, explosions and gunfire were rare until midday when, as with every truce announcement, the paramilitaries of General Mohamed Hamdane Daglo accused the army of rival General Abdel Fattah al- Burhane, to continue flying over Khartoum.
On the other hand, it was impossible to know immediately whether the heavy fighting that had raged in the vast region of Darfur, in western Sudan, since the start of hostilities on April 15 had subsided in intensity.
The World Health Organization (WHO) further expressed concern about “very high” biological risks after the occupation “by belligerents” of a “public health laboratory”, where agents could be found. pathogens of measles, cholera and poliomyelitis.
More than 420 people have been killed and thousands injured since mid-April in Sudan, according to the UN, but “after intense negotiations”, the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) “agreed to a ceasefire fire across the country,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said shortly before the truce went into effect at midnight Monday.
The army and paramilitaries have confirmed a “dedicated truce to the opening of humanitarian corridors”.
Taking advantage of this potential lull, up to 270,000 people could still flee to neighboring Chad and South Sudan, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) warned on Tuesday.
Khaled Omar Youssef, of the Forces of Freedom and Change (FLC), the civilian bloc sacked by the putsch led in 2021 by the two then-allied generals, told AFP that he welcomed “American mediation” which established, with the civilians, “contacts with the army and the FSR” in view of “this humanitarian truce”.
“It will allow a dialogue on the modalities of a definitive ceasefire,” he said.
Mr. Blinken said he was working with allies on a “commission” to negotiate a permanent cessation of hostilities in Sudan. The military referred to “Saudi-American” mediation.
The intensity of the fighting in several districts of the capital had in fact decreased since the beginning of the evacuations of foreigners on Saturday.
In other areas, however, clashes have become more destructive in recent days. On videos posted online which could not be immediately authenticated by AFP, burnt shops, crushed buildings and haggard civilians amid the still smoking rubble testify to the violence of the air raids and artillery fire .
Dalia Mohammed fled Khartoum for Port Sudan on the east coast. “We ended up on the street, we became displaced because of something that has nothing to do with us: it’s just two men and their over-armed troops,” she laments.
Those who cannot leave the capital, plunged into chaos, try to survive, deprived of water and electricity, subject to food shortages and internet and telephone cuts.
The conflict risks “invading the entire region and beyond”, warned UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.
The Security Council is due to meet on Tuesday evening to discuss the conflict.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell welcomed the truce, urging “both sides to respect it fully”. In the meantime, the departures of foreigners continue.
On Tuesday, the United Kingdom announced to begin the evacuation of its nationals – three days after that of its diplomats -, in “priority families with children and the elderly or with a health problem”.
More than 1,000 EU nationals were able to leave, with France announcing on Tuesday that it had evacuated 538 people, including 209 French people. Ukraine was able to get 138 people out of the country, including 87 of its nationals.
Tokyo said it had evacuated “all the Japanese who were in Khartoum” and wanted to leave.
About 700 international staff from the UN, NGOs and embassies “have been evacuated to Port Sudan”, the UN said.
Dozens of other aid workers were evacuated to Chad from Darfur, the region most affected by fighting with Khartoum.
“As foreigners who can flee, the impact of the violence on an already critical humanitarian situation is worsening,” warns the UN, whose agencies have suspended their activities.
Five aid workers have been killed and, according to the doctors’ union, nearly three-quarters of hospitals are out of service.