June 22, 2023

Sudan’s army, paramilitary trade blame as fighting rages


Explosions rocked Khartoum on Thursday, more than two months after fighting broke out between two rival Sudanese generals, with each side accusing the other of attacks on civilians.

Witnesses in the east of the capital reported artillery fire, while others in the northern suburbs said there was heavy shelling from an army barracks, with the force of the blasts shaking the walls of houses.

Fighting since April 15 between the regular army, led by Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) headed by his former deputy Mohamed Hamdan Daglo has claimed more than 2,000 lives.

The latest in a series of ceasefires that have all been systematically violated ended on Wednesday morning, and fighting resumed within minutes.

The three-day US and Saudi-brokered ceasefire had brought a brief respite to the millions of civilians trapped by fighting and suffering shortages of medical care, electricity, water and other essentials.

The army accused the RSF of “taking advantage of the truce to mobilise its forces and commit several violations against civilians”.

The RSF in turn accused the army of fabricating a video of a rape attack, alleging “one of the actors appeared in the uniform” of the armed forces, “proving their guilt”.

Darfur fighting rages

The deadliest fighting has raged in Darfur, a vast region on Sudan’s western border with Chad.

In Nyala, the capital of South Darfur state, the army and paramilitary fighters clashed using “all types of weapons”, residents told AFP on Wednesday evening.

In Darfur, home to ethnic African groups as well as Arab tribes, the conflict has “taken an ethnic dimension”, the United Nations has warned.

In El-Obeid, North Kordofan state, witnesses reported hearing “artillery fire” on Wednesday.

The chief of the UN’s World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, on Wednesday confirmed “46 attacks on health care since the start of the fighting”.

He said about two-thirds of health facilities in areas affected by the war are “out of service,” and warned that “the risk of epidemics will only increase” with the rainy season that began this month.

The WHO said around 11 million people needed health assistance and voiced concerns about attempts to control ongoing epidemics of measles, malaria and dengue.

‘Bombs falling’

At a donors’ conference in Geneva on Monday, the international community pledged to raise $1.5 billion in aid for Sudan and neighbouring countries, but that amounted to less than half of the estimated needs.

“Those pledges are generous, yet they total only half of what the UN estimates is required to address humanitarian needs in the country and its neighbours,” said Will Carter of the Norwegian Refugee Council.

“It is too little given the sheer scale of the catastrophe that is unfolding,” he wrote in an article published in The New Humanitarian.

A record 25 million people — more than half Sudan’s population — need aid and protection, the United Nations says.

The conflict has plunged Sudan into chaos, with combatants occupying homes, looting properties and committing other abuses.

In his article, Carter cited the testimony of a person who had fled Khartoum and met him in White Nile state, on the border with South Sudan.

“The bombs kept falling and the walls kept shaking,” he quoted the unnamed person as saying. “The children stayed under their beds, but a bullet crossed into the wall a few inches from them.”

Almost 600,000 people have fled Sudan for neighbouring countries, the International Organization for Migration said on Tuesday.

More than two million are displaced inside Sudan, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.