(Khartoum) Thousands of civilians flee Khartoum under bombardment on Wednesday as fighting between the paramilitaries of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and the regular army left nearly 200 dead in Sudan in four days.
On foot or by car, on roads strewn with corpses and charred armored vehicles, thousands of Sudanese try to pass under the crossfire of the FSR of General Mohamed Hamdane Daglo, known as “ Hemedti ”, and the army led by the general Abdel Fattah al-Burhane, in charge since their joint coup in 2021.
The international community has been calling for dialogue since the start of hostilities on Saturday. But the two men, engaged in a now “existential” struggle according to experts, remain deaf to calls for a ceasefire or at least a temporary truce to evacuate civilians from the most dangerous neighborhoods.
Despite everything, while the fighting sometimes experiences brief lulls, most often time to reload ammunition or move a few streets, every day clusters of families have managed to leave the capital.
Because life is no longer tenable there since Saturday: electricity and running water have disappeared, and only return in some places for a few hours, and stray bullets regularly pierce a wall or a window. Worse, sometimes a bomb from the sky reduces a building or a hospital to a pile of rubble.
Already Monday evening, the UN counted nearly 200 dead, more than 1,800 wounded, and all the doctors repeat it, no assessment is reliable as the battlefield is dangerous: many bodies and many wounded have not yet been found.
The fighting has already closed seven hospitals in Khartoum, doctors report. Most of the others can no longer operate: because they have no more equipment, because fighters are occupying them or because the medics, caught under fire, have not been able to take up their post.
As for food stocks, traditionally limited in a country where inflation is normally in three digits, they are only melting and no more supply trucks have entered the capital since Saturday.
In a country of 45 million people where hunger affects more than a third of the population, humanitarians and diplomats say they can no longer work: three employees of the World Food Program (WFP) were killed in Darfur (west) and l UN denounces “looting, attacks and sexual violence against humanitarian workers”.
The inhabitants live in anguish of an attack on their house or their family: they have not forgotten the battles, raids and other atrocities which earned dictator Omar al-Bashir (deposed in 2019) two arrest warrants for “ war crimes ”, “ crimes against humanity ” and “ genocide ” in Darfur. At the time, he had delegated the scorched earth policy to one man: Hemedti.
So on Wednesday, thousands of women and children took the road to the provinces bordering Khartoum, progressing among corpses from which pestilential odors were beginning to emerge, witnesses report.
For the chancelleries on the spot, the task is complicated by attacks: an American diplomatic convoy came under fire on Monday, the ambassador of the European Union was “ attacked in his residence ” in Khartoum and the Belgian head of the humanitarian mission from the EU was “ hospitalized ” after being shot.
But they claim to try to organize transport for their nationals.
The Japanese Ministry of Defence, for example, undertook the “ necessary preparations ” for evacuations, a prospect which could still be remote, as fighting began at Khartoum airport, which has since been out of service.
In four days of air raids, clashes in the streets and an intense media war on television and social networks, neither the army nor the paramilitaries have the upper hand.
“ Neither side seems to be winning at the moment and given the intensity of the fighting, the level of violence, things could get even worse before the two generals sit down at the negotiating table ”, warns Clément Deshayes, teacher at the University of Paris 1.
For this, “their regional partners would have to exert pressure and for the moment the declarations do not go in this direction,” the Sudan specialist told AFP.
The acting powers, neighbors and other backers try to spare the two warring generals. Because they do not want to insult the future, which is still very uncertain, assure the experts.