In Sudan, fighting continues and aid still does not arrive

Air raids and fighting raged again on Tuesday in Sudan, despite a new extension of the truce to try to deliver vital humanitarian aid to this country on the brink of famine

In Sudan, fighting continues and aid still does not arrive

Air raids and fighting raged again on Tuesday in Sudan, despite a new extension of the truce to try to deliver vital humanitarian aid to this country on the brink of famine.

At war since April 15, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhane's army and General Mohamed Hamdane Daglo's paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (FSR) agreed on Monday evening to extend a theoretical ceasefire for five days. in force since May 22.

But on the ground, the air raids, artillery fire and armored movements never ceased.

On Tuesday, air raids and fighting continued late into the night in Khartoum and Darfur, a vast border region of Chad, residents told AFP.

"There is no ceasefire in Sudan," said researcher Rashid Abdi of the Rift Valley Institute.

"There is a huge gap between the reality on the ground in Sudan and the diplomacy in Jeddah", in Saudi Arabia, where the American and Saudi mediators negotiated the truce with the emissaries of the two camps, he writes.

The war has already caused more than 1,800 deaths, according to the NGO ACLED, and nearly one and a half million displaced persons and refugees according to the UN.

"Looting has become commonplace in Khartoum, with neighborhoods entirely raked", testifies a humanitarian from the Norwegian refugee council (NRC).

And the two belligerents do not seem to want to silence the guns.

"The army is ready to fight until victory," General Burhane said while visiting his troops in Khartoum on Tuesday.

The FSR say they continue to exercise "their right to defend themselves" against "violations of the truce by the army".

Sudan was already before the war one of the poorest countries in the world. One in three residents suffered from hunger, long power cuts were a daily occurrence and the health system was on the verge of collapse.

After nearly seven weeks of war, 25 of the 45 million Sudanese need humanitarian aid to survive, according to the UN.

Among them, more than 13.6 million children, underlines UNICEF, including "620,000 in a state of acute malnutrition, half of whom could die if they are not helped in time".

Three-quarters of the hospitals in the combat zones are out of order, the others have virtually no equipment or medicines left.

So far, aid workers have only been able to deliver small quantities of food or medicine because their workers cannot travel and their shipments are blocked at customs.

"The food aid distributed weeks ago was only enough for a few days" in Madani, a town south of Khartoum that hosts the capital's displaced, said NRC's Ahmed Omer, describing those who "sleep on the ground , sick children, pregnant women and the elderly in need of vital care".

In Darfur, some regions are cut off from the world, without electricity, internet or telephone and activists say they fear the worst while refugees in Chad recount the killings and fires caused by the fighting.

If Ryad and Washington regularly welcome a drop in violence, others are already considering a long war and long-term destruction. The Haggar group, a heavyweight in the agricultural sector, Sudan's largest employer, has announced that it will suspend its activities and investments in the country.

Many Sudanese now fear "an all-out civil war", according to the Forces of Freedom and Change (FLC), the civil bloc ousted from power during the putsch led in 2021 by the two generals, then allies and now at war. .

Calls to arm civilians are increasing.

In Darfur, already devastated in the 2000s by a deadly war, local militias, tribal fighters and armed civilians have joined the fighting. Governor Minni Minnawi, a former rebel leader now close to the army, called on the population on Sunday to take up arms "to protect their property".

"We must arm ourselves, because everyone is in danger", pleads Aboubaker Ismaïl, a resident of the region, speaking of attacks against inhabitants in their homes, or looting.

But, retorts Mohammed Hassan, a resident of Nyala, the capital of South Darfur, calling on civilians to arm themselves is "totally irresponsible: it is a very dangerous call which can lead us to civil war".

Chad, South Sudan or Ethiopia, neighboring states themselves in the grip of violence, fear a contagion and demand aid from the UN, which in return repeats having received only a tiny part of the funds from its donors.

And in a few days, the rainy season will begin and with it the fear of epidemics of malaria or cholera.

05/30/2023 22:45:42 -         Khartoum (AFP) -         © 2023 AFP