Sudan: the fighting is raging, the humanitarian situation is catastrophic
Fierce fighting continues Tuesday in Sudan between the army and paramilitaries warring for power, ignoring a truce constantly violated, as the international community is alarmed by a humanitarian situation that is turning to the “catastrophe”.
“We hear gunshots, warplanes and anti-aircraft fire”, reports to AFP a resident of Khartoum, the capital in the grip of chaos since April 15, the day when the fighting began between Abdel Fattah al- Burhane, head of state and of the army, and his number two, Mohamed Hamdane Daglo, known as “Hemedti”, at the head of the paramilitaries of the Rapid Support Forces (FSR).
The violent clashes in Khartoum and other regions, particularly in Darfur (west), left more than 500 dead and ten times more injured, according to largely underestimated reports. On Sunday, a new truce almost never respected was renewed for 72 hours.
Foreigners continue to leave the country and Sudanese flee by the tens of thousands. The UN expects “more than 800,000 people” seeking refuge in neighboring countries such as Egypt, Chad, Ethiopia and the Central African Republic.
Those who remain face shortages of water, electricity and food, while the temperature in Khartoum exceeds 40 degrees Celsius.
Violence and looting
Conflict transforms the humanitarian drama already existing in “real disaster”, alerted Abdou Dieng, coordinator of humanitarian aid in Sudan, during a meeting Monday at the UN.
For the Kenyan president too, the crisis has reached a “catastrophic level”. And the two men at war refuse “to hear the calls” of the international community, regretted William Ruto, calling for the delivery of humanitarian aid “with or without a ceasefire”.
Generals Burhanne and Daglo had joined forces to oust the civilians with whom they shared power since the fall of dictator Omar al-Bashir in 2019, during the 2021 putsch. But then differences emerged and the conflict between the two s intensified when they failed to agree on the integration of the RSF into the regular army, before turning into an armed struggle.
In an appeal to the Kenyan president, the secretary of State, Antony Blinken, “reiterated US support” for diplomatic efforts to “end the conflict” and ensure “unimpeded humanitarian access.”
The UN chief for humanitarian affairs, Martin Griffiths, traveled to Nairobi on Monday on an emergency mission. The situation “since April 15 has been catastrophic,” he tweeted.
Especially since the violence and looting have spared neither hospitals nor humanitarian organizations, many of whom have had to suspend a large part of their activities.
The World Health Organization (WHO) also fears a “catastrophe” for the health system, already very fragile before the war in Sudan, one of the poorest countries in the world and under international embargo for two decades.
Only 16% of health facilities are truly functioning in Khartoum, but even there, equipment and exhausted staff are in short supply.
“Evacuations of emergency”
However, the aid is coming in a trickle: six containers of WHO medical equipment have arrived, in particular to treat the seriously injured and patients suffering from acute malnutrition. Increasingly scarce fuel has been distributed to some hospitals that rely on generators.
The World Food Program (WFP) has also begun to resume operations, after a temporary suspension due to death of three employees.
Beyond Khartoum, chaos has taken over West Darfur, where even civilians are now taking part in the violence, according to the UN, citing a hundred deaths since last week, when the fighting started in this region already marked by a bloody civil war in the 2000s.
“The health system completely collapsed in El-Geneina”, capital of West Darfur , worries the doctors' union, adding that the looting of dispensaries and camps for the displaced has caused “emergency evacuations” of humanitarian teams.
In total, more than 330,000 people have been displaced across the country, more than 70% of them in West Darfur and South Darfur, according to the International Organization for Migration.