(Khartoum) The head of humanitarian aid at the UN arrived in Sudan on Wednesday where fierce fighting is raging in defiance of a truce which ends Wednesday at midnight, while neighboring South Sudan claims to have negotiated an extension of the seven-day ceasefire.
A witness told AFP of “sounds of clashes and explosions around the headquarters of public television”, in the northern suburbs of Khartoum. “ Military planes are flying over ” the capital, says another resident.
The army and the paramilitaries accuse each other of ignoring the ceaselessly violated truce. Above all, it allows for the safe evacuation of civilians and the pursuit of indirect negotiations abroad, according to experts.
850 kilometers east of Khartoum, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator arrived in Port Sudan, a coastal city spared from the fighting.
Martin Griffiths came “ to reaffirm the UN’s commitment to the Sudanese people ”, he tweeted, as the first shipments of humanitarian aid arrive in dribs and drabs in the country, one of the poorest in the world. One in three inhabitants already depended on humanitarian aid before the war.
South Sudan announced to him “an agreement in principle” on a truce “from May 4 to 11” between the head of the army, Abdel Fattah al-Burhane, and his number two, Mohamed Hamdane Daglo, at the head of the paramilitaries of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), which have been engaged in a fierce struggle for power since April 15.
Neither party reacted to this announcement.
The FSR released images this week of their men brandishing weapons in the courtyard of the ransacked presidential palace.
Saudi Arabia, mediator in this conflict, reported on Wednesday an attack and looting by “an armed group” of its cultural office in Khartoum.
The fighting, especially in Khartoum and Darfur (west), left more than 550 dead and thousands injured, according to a latest report, and displaced more than 330,000 people. At least another 100,000 have joined neighboring countries, according to the UN, which expects eight times as many refugees.
Sudan’s neighbors fear the repercussions of the conflict. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi believes that “ the whole region could be affected ”. “We are doing everything we can to ensure that discussions take place,” he told the Japanese newspaper The Asahi Shimbun, on the sidelines of a visit to Cairo by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
According to the Egyptian president, his country “already hosts millions of Sudanese” and other refugees while he himself is facing “high inflation”.
The Sudanese who remained in Khartoum face significant shortages of water, electricity and food, a “ catastrophe ” according to the UN. Foreigners continue to be evacuated by the hundreds, especially via Port Sudan.
On the diplomatic front, Juba is not alone in the maneuver. The UN envoy to Sudan, Volker Perthes, says the two belligerents have said they are ready to “start technical discussions” for a ceasefire only, probably in Saudi Arabia.
Now at war, the two generals led the 2021 putsch together to oust the civilians with whom they had shared power since the fall of dictator Omar al-Bashir two years earlier. But they did not manage to agree on the question of the integration of the FSR into the army.
An emissary from General Burhane has visited Riyadh and then Cairo in recent days. The African Union (AU) calls for its part to avoid “ dispersed action ” which would prevent a “ resumption of the political process ”.
For Ernst Jan Hogendoorn, Sudan specialist at the Atlantic Council, the international community must “ strategically apply pressure ” by freezing the bank accounts and blocking the commercial activities of the belligerents to reduce their capacities to “ combat and resupply ”.
Beyond Khartoum, the UN is concerned about the situation in West Darfur, bordering Chad, where according to it, violence has left a hundred dead since last week, in a region already traumatized by a bloody war in the 2000s.