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A humanitarian crisis in hospitals.. Sudan’s battles are entering their eighth week despite the armistice


According to witnesses, clashes took place around the city of Kutum in North Darfur state, located north of El Fasher, the state capital.

Aerial and artillery bombardment shook Khartoum on Saturday, with no prospect of calm in a conflict that entered its eighth week and continues to claim victims, of whom the Sudanese Red Crescent announced the burial of 180 unidentified persons.

Residents of Khartoum reported that the army’s warplanes had bombed areas in the south of Khartoum, which were responded to by ground anti-aircraft fire from areas controlled by the Rapid Support Forces.

Witnesses also reported hearing the sounds of “artillery shelling” in the suburb of Omdurman, north of Khartoum, on Saturday morning, and that shells fell in the Al-Sahafa neighborhood in the south of the capital, causing “civilian casualties.”

This comes a day after shelling was recorded in the north and south of Khartoum, and clashes in the east.

Clashes were also recorded around the city of Kutum in North Darfur state, located north of El Fasher, the state capital, according to witnesses.

The battles intensified in the past two days, after a temporary truce concluded with Saudi-American mediation between the army led by Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and the Rapid Support Forces led by Muhammad Hamdan Dagalo met the fate of its predecessors, with its complete collapse.

Since the outbreak of the conflict on April 15, the two sides have not fulfilled repeated pledges of a field truce that would allow civilians to leave combat zones or provide safe passages for the entry of relief aid.

The Red Crescent said that the fighting forced its volunteers to bury 180 people without identifying their identities in Khartoum and the Darfur region (west), which are the two regions that are witnessing the most intense battles.

The Red Crescent said in a statement on Friday night that since the outbreak of the fighting, volunteers have buried 102 unidentified bodies in the Shaqilab cemetery in the capital and 78 in Darfur.

The two parties to the conflict have repeatedly pledged to protect civilians and secure humanitarian corridors, but these promises have not been implemented on the ground.

Difficulty in recovering bodies

More than 1,800 people have been killed since the fighting broke out in mid-April, according to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project.

However, paramedics, relief agencies and international organizations have repeatedly warned that the actual number of victims is much higher, due to the presence of dead bodies in hard-to-reach areas, or the inability of some of the injured to reach medical centers for treatment.

The Red Crescent, which receives support from the International Committee of the Red Cross, said its volunteers had struggled to navigate the streets to retrieve bodies “due to security restrictions”.

During the cease-fire talks hosted in the Saudi city of Jeddah starting in May, the warring parties agreed to enable aid actors, such as the Red Crescent and/or the International Committee of the Red Cross, to “collect, register and bury the dead in coordination with the relevant authorities.”

But due to repeated violations, the armistice agreement brokered by the United States and Saudi Arabia collapsed.

The army announced on Wednesday that it had suspended its participation in the talks and accused the support forces of not fulfilling their obligations to respect the truce and to withdraw from hospitals and homes. This was followed by confirmation by the Saudi and American mediators of officially suspending the talks.

In what appears to be a prelude to a possible further escalation in violence, the army announced on Friday that it had brought in reinforcements to participate in “operations in the central Khartoum area.”

On Saturday, bus drivers linking Khartoum with other states reported that “since yesterday, the authorities have prevented entry to the capital.”

These buses constitute one of the rare means for the population of Khartoum, estimated at more than five million, to get out to safer areas. It is estimated that more than 700,000 people have left the capital for other parts since the start of the fighting.

extension of the United Nations mission

Life conditions have become difficult in the capital, as water has been cut off from entire neighborhoods, electricity is available for only a few hours a week, while three-quarters of hospitals in combat zones have stopped working, and residents are struggling to provide food.

The situation is particularly dire in West Darfur, which is home to about a quarter of Sudan’s population and has not recovered from a devastating two-decade war that left hundreds of thousands dead and more than two million displaced.

Hundreds of civilians have been killed, villages and markets set on fire, and relief facilities looted, prompting tens of thousands to seek refuge in neighboring Chad.

In return for the Saudi-American mediation and the Jeddah talks, other parties are working to try to find a solution to the crisis in Sudan, such as the Intergovernmental Authority on Development in East Africa (IGAD), which is composed of eight countries, including Kenya, which hosted on Saturday the advisor to the commander of the Support Forces, Youssef Ezzat.

After receiving Ezzat, Kenyan President William Ruto affirmed his country’s commitment to “the urgent cessation of hostilities in Sudan.”

For its part, the Support Forces indicated in a statement that the visit comes “within the framework of a tour that includes a number of brotherly and friendly countries to explain developments in the situation in Sudan.”

This comes the day after the UN Security Council extended for six months the political mission of the United Nations in Sudan, despite Al-Burhan accusing the envoy, Volker Perthes, of contributing to fueling the conflict and calling for his replacement.

The Council agreed to extend the mandate of the “United Nations Integrated Transitional Support Mission in Sudan” until December 3, 2023. That the extension of the mandate be limited to this short period reflects the delicateness of the situation in the country.

The Secretary-General of the organization, Antonio Guterres, confirmed his “total confidence” in Berthes.

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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