(Khartoum) Airstrikes, gunfire and explosions rocked Khartoum again on Monday, despite the announcement of a truce in fighting between the army and paramilitaries that has brought Sudan to the brink of a humanitarian and health ‘catastrophe’ according to the UN.
Khartoum, the capital of five million people, is “flying over by fighter jets” as gunfire and explosions echo through various neighborhoods, witnesses said.
The fighting that has killed hundreds of people since April 15 has pitted the two generals in charge of the country since their putsch in 2021, trapping millions of Sudanese.
Army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhane and Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary commander Mohamed Hamdane Daglo, known as Hemedti, had agreed to extend a three-day ceasefire to midnight on Sunday. , after mediation by the United States and Saudi Arabia.
But since the beginning of the conflict, several announced truces were immediately violated. According to experts, they only mean that the secure corridors for the evacuation of foreigners are maintained and that the negotiations, which take place abroad, continue.
“The scale and speed at which events are unfolding in Sudan [is] unprecedented,” said the UN on Sunday, which dispatched its chief for humanitarian affairs, Martin Griffiths, to the region in an attempt to ” provide immediate relief” to the residents.
For Mr. Griffiths, the “humanitarian situation is reaching a breaking point” in the country, one of the poorest in the world. The massive looting has “depleted most of the stocks” of aid organizations, he said.
In a country where a third of the inhabitants suffered from hunger before the war, the World Food Program (WFP) however said on Monday to resume “immediately its activities”, suspended after the death of three of its employees.
For the World Health Organization (WHO), the already “well-known” health crisis in Sudan has now become a “catastrophe”.
After 20 years of international embargo, “the health system was facing multiple crises, with extremely fragile infrastructure,” WHO regional director Ahmed Al-Mandhari told AFP.
Today, he says, “only 16% of Khartoum’s hospitals are operating at full capacity”, with the rest having been bombed, occupied by belligerents or out of staff and supplies.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) managed to deliver eight tonnes of aid on Sunday, a first since the start of the conflict, which, he warned, will only treat “1,500 wounded”.
The UN has identified 75,000 internally displaced people. At least 20,000 fled to Chad, thousands more to the Central African Republic, South Sudan and Ethiopia.
In total, up to 270,000 people, according to a UN estimate, could flee the fighting which affects 12 of the 18 states of this country of 45 million inhabitants.
Residents of the capital, when not fleeing, remain barricaded, trying to survive despite food, water and electricity shortages.
Khartoum state has given officials “furlough until further notice”, while police have been deployed to prevent looting.
Authorities in White Nile state in southern Sudan have announced the arrival of 70,000 displaced “in recent days” in its camps.
The Arab League is meeting in Cairo on Monday to discuss the situation, after the United Arab Emirates, allies of General Daglo, said it called the army chief.
General Burhane sent an emissary to Riyadh on Sunday, calling for a meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation on Wednesday.
The UN is particularly concerned about the situation in West Darfur, where around 100 people have been killed in fighting in which it says civilians are involved.
This region had been marked by the bloody civil war started in 2003 between the dictatorship of Omar al-Bashir and ethnic minorities.
Many countries, including France, Germany and the United States, have evacuated their nationals from Sudan and several of them continue the evacuations.
This “exodus reflects a grim reality,” with both the United States and other powers making only “timid and belated efforts to stop the fighting and help the Sudanese,” observes Sudan expert Alex de Waal.
According to him, the states most involved in this country, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in the lead, have never “wanted to see a democratic revolution in the Arab world”.
The putsch of October 2021 had closed the parenthesis of the democratic transition begun with the fall in 2019 of dictator Omar al-Bashir.
Generals Burhane and Daglo, now in a struggle for power, formed a common front during this putsch to oust the civilians with whom they shared power.
But differences then appeared and, for lack of agreement on the integration of the FSR into the army, degenerated into open war.