Humanitarian aid delayed due to increased fighting in Sudan

Aid agencies say at least 1,800 people have died; warn of water-borne diseases as rainy season looms

By Web Desk
May 29, 2023
Destroyed vehicles are pictured outside the burnt-down headquarters of Sudan´s Central Bureau of Statistics, on al-Sittin (sixty) road in the south of Khartoum on May 29, 2023. — AFP

Gunfire and artillery fire echoed across the capital city of Sudan as fears of the six-week battle getting increased with summons to arms Monday, the final day of a ceasefire that has been repeatedly breached.

Residents said that they could hear street battles in northern Khartoum as well as artillery fire in the south of the capital of over five million people, which has been turned into a deadly war zone, AFP reported.

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Fearful locals have taken to the streets since the truce started a week ago in an attempt to find food or water, the price of which has doubled since the war began.

However, countless families are still sheltering in place, rationing water and electricity while urgently attempting to avoid errant gunfire.

According to Toby Harward of the United Nations refugee agency, in Darfur, on the western border with Chad, continued fighting "blatantly disregards ceasefire commitments."

"Intermittent fighting between Sudanese armed forces and Rapid Support Forces in El Fasher, North Darfur, over the last few days has seen civilians killed, homes looted, and tens of thousands newly displaced in the already war-ravaged region," Harward said.

According to the UN, about half of the population now depends on this "critical humanitarian relief," but delivery has been delayed because of the ongoing violence.

Representatives of the army's top brass, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and his former deputy, Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, who is in charge of the paramilitary RSF, promised to halt the ongoing airstrikes, artillery fire, and street fighting to allow for the entry of "much-needed aid" and the evacuation of civilians a week ago.

However, by the seventh day of the cease-fire, which was set to end on Monday at 9:45 pm (1945 GMT), no humanitarian corridors had been established, and supplies had just slowly begun to arrive to restock the few hospitals that were still open in the city, the report said.

Aid agencies have informed of the killing of at least 1,800 people, including more than 30 infants, and have also warned that with the rainy season approaching in June, parts of the country will become inaccessible while the risk of cholera, malaria, and water-borne diseases will rise.

The US and Saudi mediators requested that the ceasefire be extended, and both the army and the RSF have stated that they are open to the idea.

Saudi Arabia and the United States, however, issued a warning that "both parties are posturing for future escalation."

Furthermore, on Sunday, the governor of Darfur, a former rebel commander who is now a military ally, urged civilians to pick up arms.

The army has previously urged reserve personnel and pensioners to arm themselves, while tribes in the country's east have already called for the provision of guns.

One of Sudan's most important civil society organisations, the Umma Party, issued a warning "against calls to arm citizens under the pretext of protecting themselves," which it described as "attempts to drag the country into civil war."

Even if the ceasefire is extended, the UN issued a warning because of "increasing reports of unexploded ordinances" in the capital and other heavily populated regions.

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