Residents reported clashes between competing military factions erupting in Sudan’s capital on Wednesday, threatening to derail a fragile ceasefire aimed at facilitating relief delivery and building the groundwork for a more permanent truce.
Sudan’s warring parties sign seven-day ceasefire
Sudan’s army and paramilitary RSF signed an agreement late on Saturday for a seven-day ceasefire as fighting that has plunged the country into…
The ceasefire agreement, which is being supervised by Saudi Arabia and the United States, as well as the warring parties, comes after five weeks of intense battle in Khartoum and spurts of violence in other sections of the country, including Darfur’s western region.
The conflict pits Sudan’s army against the formidable paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), escalating a humanitarian crisis that has forced over 1.3 million people to evacuate their homes and threatens to destabilize the area as a whole.
On Tuesday, there was a relative calm in combat in Khartoum, but there was little sign of a rapid increase in humanitarian aid.
On Wednesday afternoon, witnesses reported skirmishes in numerous districts of the capital.
Columns of black smoke could be seen rising into the air west of capital Khartoum, and shelling was reported near an army base in southern Khartoum.
In Bahri, one of the three cities around the confluence of the Blue Nile and White Nile rivers that make up Sudan’s greater capital, the sound of clashes and artillery fire could be heard.
Witnesses in Omdurman, the third city, reported that an army fighter plane had been shot down, and videos posted on social media appeared to show the incident. The footage could not immediately be verified.
Earlier, residents reported artillery fire near the Wadi Sayidna military base on the outskirts of Omdurman.
The ceasefire was agreed to on Saturday following talks in Jeddah mediated by Saudi Arabia and the United States. Previous ceasefire announcements had failed to stop the fighting.
Saudi Arabia and the United States late on Tuesday said members of a ceasefire monitoring mechanism that includes representatives of the army and the RSF had undertaken to engage their chains of command about reported truce violations.
In Nyala, the capital of South Darfur State, days of clashes between the army and the RSF had left most of the main market burned down, two residents said.
“We’re in a very difficult situation. We feel emotionally broken and terrified,” said resident Malak Ibrahim, adding that her family hadn’t had water for the past two weeks.
Activists in Zalingei, the capital of Central Darfur State, said RSF-backed militias had surrounded the city and started looting homes and businesses. Zalingei and West Darfur State capital El Geneina, where hundreds have been killed since last month, both appeared to be cut off from phone networks.
Sudan’s crisis began just as plans for an internationally endorsed political transition toward elections under a civilian administration were scheduled to be finalized, bringing for the first time significant air strikes and ground warfare to the capital. Many communities are battling to survive as a result of extended water and power outages, a breakdown in health care, and widespread criminality and looting.
Sudan was already under significant humanitarian duress before the fighting began on April 15. According to charity workers, many of the supplies and personnel arriving at Port Sudan on the Red Sea coast are awaiting security permissions and guarantees.
More than 1 million people have now been displaced within Sudan and 319,000 have fled Sudan to adjacent countries, some of which are similarly impoverished and have a history of internal conflict, according to the International Organization for Migration. Many have fled to Chad and Egypt in recent days, according to Filippo Grandi, the head of the United Nations refugee agency, who spoke on Wednesday.
“Donor contributions to the refugee response plan remain scarce. We need more resources, urgently, to support countries hosting refugees,” he said on Twitter.