Fierce fighting between rival generals raged on in Sudan despite the latest truce, as warnings multiplied of the potential for a “catastrophic” humanitarian crisis with hundreds of thousands of refugees.
Bloodshed has gripped Sudan since April 15 when tensions erupted into armed exchanges between regular army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his deputy turned rival, Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, who commands the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces.
Hundreds have been killed and thousands wounded as air strikes and artillery exchanges have gripped swathes of greater Khartoum sparking the exodus of thousands of Sudanese to neighbouring countries.
Many more cannot afford the arduous journey to Sudan’s borders and have been forced to hole up inside the city of five million people with dwindling supplies of food, water and electricity.
“We are hearing some sporadic gunfire, the roaring of a warplane and the anti-aircraft fire at it,” said one resident of south Khartoum.
In a Monday briefing, the top UN aid official in Sudan, Abdou Dieng, warned that the situation was turning into “a full-blown catastrophe”.
Kenyan President William Ruto said the conflict had reached “catastrophic levels” with the warring generals declining “to heed the calls by the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the African Union and the international community to cease fire.”
In a virtual meeting with senior UN officials, Ruto said it was imperative to find ways to provide humanitarian relief “with or without a ceasefire”.
Burhan and Daglo, who fell out after carrying out a 2021 military coup which derailed Sudan’s transition to elective civilian rule, have flouted multiple ceasefires, the latest a 72-hour extension agreed late on Sunday.
Foreign governments have scrambled to evacuate their citizens. Over the past 10 days, thousands of foreigners have been brought to safety by air or sea in operations that are now winding down.
Russia’s armed forces said on Tuesday they were evacuating more than 200 people from Sudan on four military transport planes.
Nearly 500 people arrived in the Saudi port of Jeddah on Monday aboard two vessels, one a US Navy ship, the other Saudi.