(Khartoum) Explosions and gunshots echo Thursday in Khartoum, the twentieth day of fierce fighting between the army and the paramilitaries who are vying for power in Sudan, risking dragging the region into a crisis.

Despite the announcement of a new truce until May 11, “ clashes with all kinds of weapons and explosions ” are shaking Khartoum, residents report to AFP.

Like the more than five million inhabitants of the capital, they now live only to the rhythm of the bombardments, holed up to avoid stray bullets in houses without water or electricity, with less and less money and food, all in blistering heat.

Since April 15, the war between the army of General Abdel Fattah al-Burhane and the paramilitaries of the Rapid Support Forces (FSR), of General Mohamed Hamdane Daglo, has left 550 dead and 5,000 wounded, according to a largely understated report. estimated. Hospitals cannot keep up: less than one in five is still functioning in Khartoum and almost none in Darfur (west).

The fighting has displaced more than 335,000 people and pushed another 115,000 into exile, according to the UN, which expects eight times as many refugees.

The day the war broke out, the two generals — allies for their 2021 putsch — were to discuss with the UN and international mediators the integration of the FSR into the army, a sine qua non for a return to transition towards a civilian government and therefore the resumption of international aid, suspended in reaction to the putsch.

Instead of political negotiations, the 45 million Sudanese woke up to the sound of artillery and air raids.

“We can say that we have not succeeded in preventing” the war which took the UN “by surprise”, acknowledged its Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday.

“With every additional minute of war, people die or are thrown into the streets, society falls apart and the state weakens and breaks down a little more”, lamented Khalid Omar Youssef, a former civilian minister sacked during putsch.

In the violence-spared coastal city of Port Sudan, UN emergency relief coordinator Martin Griffiths tries to organize stock replenishments after mass looting in a country where one in three people already depended on humanitarian aid before the war.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, describes the chaos in Khartoum: “an air force raid on a hospital”, the RSFs “launching attacks in areas densely populated cities ” …

In Darfur, where civilians were armed to participate in clashes mixing soldiers, paramilitaries and tribal or rebel fighters according to the UN, the NGO Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) recounts the desolation: “ There were at least 191 dead, dozens of homes burned, thousands of displaced persons and NRC offices were looted”.

South Sudan, a historic mediator, announced a truce “from May 4 to 11”.

When it came into force, the army said it “accepted” on the condition that the FSR also stick to it. The paramilitaries did not comment.

While diplomatic channels are multiplying in Africa and the Middle East, the army said it chose this proposal from Igad, the regional organization for East Africa, because “African solutions to problems are needed. from the continent “.

She also welcomed the American-Saudi mediations, after a tour this week of her emissary to Riyadh then to Cairo and to the Arab League.

The organization will bring together the foreign ministers of the member countries on Sunday to discuss “ the Sudanese file ”, in which the Arab capitals support different camps, a senior diplomat told AFP.

General Burhane’s camp has pledged to “appoint an envoy to negotiate a truce” with the rival camp, under the aegis of “the presidents of South Sudan, Kenya and Djibouti”, in a country that has yet to be determined.

As the exodus of Sudanese continues, foreigners continue to be evacuated by the hundreds, mainly via Port Sudan on the Red Sea.

Mr. Guterres considered it “ absolutely essential ” that the crisis does not extend beyond borders.

He pleaded for “massive support for Chad”, Sudan’s neighbor, recalling that “other countries in the region (were) in their own peace processes”, such as Ethiopia and South Sudan.