Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Air Strikes in Sudan Increase as Ceasefire Nears Expiration


For the second consecutive day, fighting between the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary has raged in West Darfur’s capital, Geneina. Meanwhile, in Khartoum, the Sudanese army has launched air strikes against the RSF. Smoke columns were seen near the presidential palace and areas north of the capital as aircraft flew sorties. The RSF claimed that the Sudanese Armed Forces bombed its camp in the Kafouri district with warplanes. The death toll has risen to at least 512 people killed and 4,193 wounded as the conflict entered its 13th day, according to health ministry figures. However, the actual numbers are likely to be much higher.

Despite a three-day ceasefire brokered by the US that took effect on Tuesday, battles continued. Aircraft patrolled the skies over the capital’s northern suburbs, and fighters on the ground exchanged artillery and small-arms fire. The army has agreed to talks in Juba, capital of neighbouring South Sudan, on extending the truce, which expires late on Thursday. The talks have been proposed by a bloc of East African countries, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). There have been multiple truce efforts since fighting broke out on 15 April between Sudan’s regular army, led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and the RSF, commanded by his deputy-turned-rival, Mohamed “Hemedti” Hamdan Daglo. All have failed. Al-Burhan agreed on Wednesday to the IGAD proposal for talks on extending the ceasefire by a further 72 hours, according to the army. However, the RSF’s response to the proposal remains unclear.

Beyond Khartoum, fighting has flared in the provinces, particularly in the war-torn western region of Darfur. Fighting between the army and RSF has raged for a second straight day in West Darfur’s capital, Geneina, and sent civilians fleeing for the nearby border with Chad, witnesses said. On Wednesday, the United Nations humanitarian agency reported killings, looting and arson in Geneina. “An estimated 50,000 acutely malnourished children have had nutrition support disrupted due to the fighting,” it said in a statement. The heavy fighting has trapped many civilians in their homes, and they are short of food, water and electricity. Communications have been sporadically disrupted. The UN has warned that as many as 270,000 people could flee into Sudan’s poorer neighbours South Sudan and Chad.

Other Sudanese have sought refuge in Egypt to the north and Ethiopia to the east, but both entail long and potentially dangerous journeys overland. The UN said it “received reports of tens of thousands of people arriving in the Central African Republic, Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia and South Sudan”. Foreign governments have taken advantage of the fragile truce to organise road convoys, flights and ships to get thousands of their citizens out of Sudan. However, some have warned their evacuation efforts are dependent on the lull in fighting holding. China deployed warships on Thursday to evacuate its citizens.

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