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Sudan’s week-long ceasefire threatened by intensified fighting

Smoke rises above buildings during clashes in Khartoum, Sudan, May 1, 2023. (Photo by Reuters)


Fighting has intensified between Sudan's army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) over the past hours. 

It risks crumbling a week-long truce in the capital Khartoum and elsewhere across the country.

Eyewitnesses and local residents said clashes broke out again on Thursday in Khartoum and Omdurman as well as the strategic city of El Obeid to the southwest.

The health ministry says well over 700 people have been killed in the conflict in Sudan over the past several weeks. More than 5,400 people have also been injured.

UN Darfur coordinator Toby Harward said the militia were also besieging Zalingei, the capital of Central Darfur State. Telecommunications have been cut off and gangs roaming the city on motorcycles have attacked hospitals, government and aid offices, banks and homes, he said.

In statements late on Wednesday, the army and RSF accused each other of violating the truce. RSF said it was forced to defend itself against land, artillery and air strikes by the army. The army has accused RSF of attacks on Sudan’s air bases and several cities west of the capital.

The army, led by career officer General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, relies on air power while RSF, commanded by former militia leader General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, widely known as Hemedti, has spread out and taken cover in Khartoum’s streets.

The ceasefire was reached after five weeks of warfare in Khartoum and outbursts of fighting in other parts of Sudan, including the long volatile western region of Darfur. The truce was agreed to on Saturday following talks in the Saudi port city of Jeddah. Saudi Arabia and the United States were the mediators. Previous ceasefire announcements have failed to stop the fighting.



The fighting has worsened a humanitarian crisis, forced more than 1.3 million people to flee and threatened to destabilize a fragile region. The International Organization for Migration says roughly 319,000 people have fled to neighbouring countries.

World Food Programme Executive-Director Cindy McCain said people were fleeing Khartoum and heading west towards Darfur.

UN humanitarian agency OCHA has said agencies were ready to deliver aid to more than four million people, but security issues were hampering distribution. Out of the 168 trucks ready to deliver assistance, only a small number were on the move from Port Sudan to Gadaref, Kassala and Al Gezira, an aid official said.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said anesthesia and antibiotics and other medical supplies it had donated were now being distributed to seven hospitals in Khartoum. “Only 20% of health facilities in Khartoum are still functioning, a true collapse of the system right when it’s needed the most,” said its Sudan head Alfonso Verdu Perez in a statement. “Hospitals also urgently need water, electricity and a safe environment for their patients and staff. We appeal to the parties to respect the work of medical personnel. Lives depend on it.”

Many residents are struggling to survive as they face prolonged water and power cuts, a collapse of health services and widespread lawlessness and looting.

The conflict erupted in mid-April as plans for a political transition under a civilian government were set to be finalized.

In 2021, Burhan and Dagalo jointly staged a coup that derailed a fragile transition to civilian rule put in place after the 2019 overthrow of then President Omar al-Bashir. The two later fell out over a number of issues, including the integration of RSF into the regular army.


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