airstrikes and sporadic gunfire in defiance of a new truce
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Airstrikes on Monday evening, artillery fire on Tuesday morning … In Khartoum, the entry into force of the truce between belligerents was not respected, according to testimonies collected by AFP. This ceasefire is supposed to allow the distribution of humanitarian aid and the evacuation of civilians.
In Sudan, the truce between the army and the paramilitaries which came into effect on Monday at 7:45 p.m. was supposed to allow civilians to flee and humanitarian aid to be distributed. But in the Sudanese capital, “sporadic artillery fire” resounded on Tuesday, May 23, a resident told AFP in the morning.
Other Khartoum residents last night reported fighting and airstrikes. Tuesday at midday, an uneasy calm seemed to reign in different areas of the capital as well as in several towns in Darfur, the western region most affected by the war with Khartoum, residents reported.
In the south of Khartoum, on the other hand, a resident told AFP that he had “not heard of air raids since the beginning of the truce”.
“More than a month of broken promises”
Since April 15, the war between the army, led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhane, and the paramilitaries of the Rapid Support Forces (FSR) of General Mohamed Hamdane Daglo has claimed a thousand lives and more than a million of displaced persons and refugees.
The American and Saudi mediators had announced that they had obtained, after two weeks of negotiations, a one-week truce. The ceasefire would make it possible to relaunch services and hospitals and to replenish the stocks of humanitarian aid and markets looted or bombed in a country where 25 of the 45 million inhabitants need assistance, according to the UN.
See also Sudan: what humanitarian assessment, one month after the start of the conflict?
Both sides had pledged to respect this ceasefire, but shortly before its entry into force, the UN had denounced “fighting and troop movements”.
“Beyond official announcements, Sudan is still being bombed and millions of civilians are in danger,” said Karl Schembri, of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC). He denounced on Twitter “more than a month of broken promises”, after the failure of a dozen truces from the first minutes of their entry into force.
Media please note: Beyond official announcements, #Sudan is still pounded & bombarded, with millions of civilian lives at risk. We’ve had over a month of broken promises & empty words while humanitarian colleagues were killed together with children & others & hospitals destroyed https://t.co/e3ss9fP2yB
— Karl Schembri / ابو سلمان (@Karl_Schembri) May 22, 2023
This time, assure Riyadh and Washington, there will be “a ceasefire monitoring mechanism” bringing together representatives of both sides as well as the United States and Saudi Arabia.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken released a video overnight, assuring that “if the ceasefire is violated (…), we will hold those who violate it to account with our sanctions and other tools”.
Meanwhile, for the sixth week in a row, Khartoum’s five million residents have started their day in blistering heat, with most without water, electricity and telecommunications.
The war has made this city uninhabitable: everything has been destroyed,” laments Thouraya Mohammed, who hopes to be able to escape and take his father to a doctor.
“We are all hungry, the children, the old, everyone is suffering from the war. We have no more water,” Souad al-Fateh, a resident of Khartoum, told AFP.
Doctors continue to warn about the tragic fate of hospitals: in Khartoum as in Darfur, they are almost all out of order. Those which have not been bombed have no more stocks or are occupied by belligerents.
Read also Humanitarian aid in Sudan, between security challenge and bureaucratic headache
On Tuesday, the doctors’ union announced the closure of a new hospital in the greater suburbs of Khartoum. Caught in the crossfire, its staff was forced to stop working.
On the one hand, “several times, FSR fighters attacked patients and medical staff by shooting in the corridors of the hospital”, reports the union. On the other, high-ranking members of the regular army lead “a campaign of lies and rumours” against doctors who receive “threats”.
If the conflict continues, warns the UN, a million additional Sudanese could flee to neighboring countries which fear a contagion of violence.