Sudan fighting overturns new ceasefire as aid groups sound alarm

Cairo – Sudanese and foreigners poured out of the Khartoum capital and other battlefields as Tuesday’s battles rocked a new three-day truce brokered by the US and Saudi Arabia. Aid agencies are becoming increasingly vigilant about the crumbling humanitarian situation in countries that rely on external assistance.

Last week’s series of brief ceasefires either failed entirely or only brought an intermittent lull in the fighting that had raged since April 15 between forces loyal to the country’s two top generals. The lull was sufficient for the dramatic evacuation of hundreds of foreigners, by air and land, which continued on Tuesday.

But it has brought no relief to the millions of Sudanese struggling to find food, shelter and medical care as explosions, shootings and looters ravage their neighborhoods. With a third already in need of humanitarian assistance in the country, multiple aid agencies have had to suspend operations and dozens of hospitals have been forced to close. The UN refugee agency said potentially tens of thousands were preparing to flee to neighboring countries.

Calls for negotiations to end this crisis for Africa’s third-largest country have been ignored. For many Sudanese, the departure of diplomats, aid workers and other foreigners and the closure of the embassy are dreadful signs that international powers expect unrest to only get worse.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres said the power struggle between rival generals and their forces would not only jeopardize Sudan’s future, but would also ignite a fuze that could explode across the border. It has caused years of untold suffering and set back development, he warned. decades. “

The UN secretary-general urged the Sudanese army, commanded by General Abdel Fattah Burhan, and a rival rapid-relief force, a militia led by General Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, to “silence their guns immediately.”

“Conflicts are not and should not be resolved on the battlefield,” Guterres said at an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council late Tuesday.

Sudan’s UN Special Envoy Volker Perthes traveled with most of the UN staff and many humanitarian organizations from Khartoum to Port Sudan, citing attacks on populated areas as “ignoring the laws and norms of war.” ” accused both parties of fighting.

Supply disruptions and fears of an increase in crime have increased, and “reports of the release of prisoners from Khartoum detention centers have exacerbated these fears,” he said.

Thousands of Sudanese flee Khartoum and the neighboring city of Omdurman. On Tuesday morning, the capital’s bus station was packed with people who had spent the night there in hopes of catching a departing bus.

Drivers have increased fares at border crossings with Egypt and routes to the eastern Red Sea city of Port Sudan, sometimes tenfold. Fuel prices have skyrocketed, from $4.20 to $67 a gallon, and in many cases food and water prices have doubled, said the Norwegian Refugee Council.

Those lucky enough to reach the border crossing face further difficulties.

Teacher Moaz al-Ser arrived at the Arkin border crossing with Egypt early Tuesday morning with his wife and three children after a harrowing journey from Omdurman. They were among hundreds of families awaiting processing. Many people spent the night in the open near the border.

“The intersection is overwhelmed and authorities on both sides do not have the capacity to handle such an increasing number of arrivals,” he said.

Guterres cited reports of violent clashes across the country, with people forced from their homes in the states of Blue Nile and North Kordofan, as well as West Darfur. Fear-stricken people remain trapped indoors, with food, water, medicine and fuel dwindling and health services on the brink of collapse, he said.

At least 20 hospitals have been forced to close due to damage, military use or lack of resources, said Deputy Director General for Humanitarian Affairs Joyce Musuya. She also told the council that there were “many reports of sexual and gender-based violence”.

The 72-hour ceasefire announced by Secretary of State Anthony Brinken is set to last late Thursday night, extending the ceasefire nominally by three days over the weekend.

Rival powers said Tuesday they would honor the ceasefire. In a separate announcement, they said Saudi Arabia played a role in the negotiations.

But the fighting continued, with explosions, gunfire, and the roar of fighter planes blaring overhead over the metropolitan area.

“They only stop when they run out of ammunition,” said Omdurman resident Amin Ishak. He Al-Roumy, a medical facility in Omdurman, said it had suspended services after being hit by artillery shells on Tuesday.

“They don’t respect the ceasefire,” said Atiyah Abdallah Atiyah, an official with the Sudan Doctors Syndicate, a casualty monitoring group.

Dr. Bushra Ibnauf Sulieman, a Sudanese-American doctor who headed the medical school at the University of Khartoum, was stabbed to death outside his home, Doctors’ Syndicate said. He practiced medicine for many years in the United States, where his children live, but he returned to Sudan to train doctors. His colleagues said he was treating people wounded in recent fighting and did not know who killed him.

On the other hand, the World Health Organization expressed the following concerns: One of the warring parties seized control of the Central Public Health Laboratory in Khartoum.

“This is very dangerous because we have polio isolates in our labs. We have measles isolates in our labs. We have cholera isolates in our labs,” said the WHO representative in Sudan. Dr. Nima Saeed Abid spoke at a UN briefing in Geneva over a video call from Port Sudan.

He did not specify which side owned the facility, but said they were unable to properly manage the biological material because they had ousted their engineers and cut off power. There are biological risks.”

Meanwhile, clashes have escalated in the West Darfur region, residents said. Armed groups in RSF uniforms attacked several areas of the provincial capital of Genena, burning and looting houses and displaced persons’ camps.

A Genena doctor, who requested anonymity for fear of reprisal, said “fierce fighting is raging all over the city.” “All eyes are on Khartoum, but the situation here is unimaginable.”

Women and children fled their homes in the city center, the city’s main hospital was out of action for days, and the number of casualties was unknown, she said.

According to Darfur 24, an online news outlet focused on reporting on the war-torn region, more fighters on motorcycles and horses are pouring into the city to join the fighting, and the streets are littered with corpses.

The RSF has its roots in Darfur, born out of the notorious Janjaweed militia that perpetrated atrocities while suppressing rebellions in the 2000s.

Citing Sudan’s health ministry, the UN health agency said at least 459 people, including civilians and combatants, have been killed and more than 4,000 injured since the fighting began. Among them, in Khartoum he said 166 people were killed and more than 2,300 wounded.

Secretary-General Guterres said four UN staff had died. According to the United Nations, they were three Sudanese working for the World Food Program and one Sudanese working for the International Organization for Migration.

Those who could headed to the Egyptian border, Port Sudan, or the relatively calm states along the Nile. However, it has been difficult to measure the full scale of displacement.

Musuya said the United Nations had received reports of “tens of thousands of arrivals in the Central African Republic, Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia and South Sudan”.

Mohamed Mahdi of the International Relief Commission warns that Tunaiba refugee camp in eastern Sudan is running out of resources after 3,000 people fleeing Khartoum have taken refuge there, joining some 28,000 refugees from Ethiopia. bottom.

At least 20,000 people fled to the city of Wad Madani, 160 kilometers (100 miles) south of Khartoum, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. About 20,000 Sudanese have fled to Chad, and about 4,000 South Sudanese refugees living in Sudan have returned home, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency.


Associated Press writers Jill Lawless of London, Kirsten Grieshaber of Berlin and Edith M. Lederer of the United Nations contributed to this report.

Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

https://www.local10.com/news/2023/04/25/fitful-start-to-new-3-day-truce-in-sudan-airlifts-continue/ Sudan fighting overturns new ceasefire as aid groups sound alarm

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