Air raids and heavy gunfire in Khartoum, thousands evacuated from Sudan: The fierce and deadly fighting between the army and the paramilitaries entered its third week, Saturday April 29, while a new truce has not been respected.
The country has been plunged into chaos since the outbreak on April 15 of a bloody power struggle between the army chief, Abdel Fattah al-Burhane, and his number two, Mohamed Hamdane Daglo, known as "Hemedti", at the head of the dreaded Rapid Support Forces (RSF).
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres lamented via Al-Arabiya Channel that "the war for power continues as the country crumbles". Each side accuses itself of violating the truce extended, under international mediation, until Sunday midnight (Paris time). On Friday, the generals at war were torn apart by the media.
On Al-Hurra TV, Burhane called the RSF "a militia seeking to destroy Sudan" with the help of "mercenaries from Chad, the Central African Republic and Niger". "Hemedti" spoke on the BBC about his rival as a "traitor" who is "untrustworthy".
The fighting left at least 528 dead and 4,599 injured, according to the latest official figures released on Saturday. If the truce does not stop the fighting, it does not prevent the continuation of evacuations. Tens of thousands of Sudanese have fled to neighboring states including Egypt, Ethiopia, Chad and South Sudan, while foreign countries are carrying out mass evacuations of their nationals.
"The window of opportunity is closing"
A US-organized convoy evacuated "US citizens, local employees, and nationals of allied and partner countries" to the coastal city of Port Sudan, from where they can embark for Saudi Arabia , the State Department announced on Saturday. From this Red Sea port, "we are helping [them] continue their journey to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where additional US personnel are in place to provide consular and emergency services," he said. he adds.
For its part, the US Department of Defense said in another statement that it had deployed "intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets to support air and ground evacuation routes" and moved "naval assets to provide support necessary on the coast".
The UK has already warned that its final evacuation flight will take place on Saturday evening after pulling more than 1,500 people out of Sudan. "The window of opportunity is closing," lamented Canada for its part. "We continue to evaluate different options to evacuate Canadians, including by land and sea," said Defense Minister Anita Anand. In all, "more than 375 Canadians" have been evacuated from Sudan and about 300 others are waiting for help to get out of the country, the minister added.
"Hundreds of thousands" expected to leave the country
Civilians try to flee or survive barricaded without electricity, water or food. "There are clashes with heavy weapons and machine guns," a Khartoum resident told AFP, while another witness reported "explosions and shooting" elsewhere in the capital. About 70% of hospitals in combat zones are out of service, according to the doctors' union.
According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), "hundreds of thousands" of people are expected to leave the country. Some 14,000 people, mostly South Sudanese, have already arrived in South Sudan, a spokeswoman for the UN agency told Agence France-Presse on Saturday. “The ongoing fighting in Sudan is expected to cause further displacement inside and outside the country. We are stepping up our efforts to help those seeking safety,” UNHCR wrote on its Twitter account on Saturday.
The UN estimates that millions more people could sink into hunger when a third of the 45 million Sudanese already suffer from it, in the country, one of the poorest in the world.
Still according to the UN, 75,000 people have been displaced by the fighting, which was particularly violent in Darfur, a region torn apart by war in the 2000s. Looting, destruction and fires are increasing there in the West, including in camps displaced, reports Doctors Without Borders (MSF). The NGO had to "stop almost all of [its] activities there", regrets its deputy head in Sudan, Sylvain Perron.
In recent days, a hundred people have been killed in fighting that has ravaged El-Geneina, its capital, according to the UN, whose boss Antonio Guterres deplored a "terrible" situation. "Society is collapsing, we see tribes now trying to arm themselves," he said.