Airstrikes and gunfire rocked the Sudanese capital on Friday, and despite new US sanctions threats and a rising death toll, including dozens of children, the fighting showed no signs of abating.
In a battle between Sudanese de facto leader Abdel Fattah al-Bahhan, who leads the regular army, and his lieutenant rival Mohamed Hamdan Dagro, who heads the militia’s Emergency Support Force (RSF), Hundreds died over nearly three weeks.
The fighting continued a day after US President Joe Biden threatened sanctions against those responsible for “threatening Sudan’s peace, security and stability” and “undermining Sudan’s transition to democracy.”
The North African country had already suffered decades of sanctions during the reign of dictator Omar al-Bashir, who was ousted in a palace coup in 2019 after mass protests in the streets. .
“The violence in Sudan is a tragedy and a betrayal of the Sudan people’s clear demands for a transition to civil rule and democracy. It must end,” Biden said.
Witnesses reported continued airstrikes and explosions in various parts of Khartoum, including near the airport, on Friday.
The RSF has yet to respond after announcing a seven-day ceasefire brokered by neighboring South Sudan and accepted by the military on Wednesday.
But earlier on Friday, paramilitary groups said they would extend a previous ceasefire, negotiated under arbitration between the United States and Saudi Arabia, by just three days.
– Children at risk –
According to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project, the conflict has so far killed about 700 people, mostly in the Khartoum and West Darfur regions.
“The situation in Sudan has become deadly for an alarming number of children,” UNICEF, the United Nations child assistance agency, warned on Friday.
Spokesman James Elder said the agency has received reports from trusted partners that 190 children have been killed and 1,700 injured in the first 11 days of the conflict.
He said the figures were collected from health facilities in Khartoum and Darfur since fighting broke out on 15 April, and that they were only for children who actually reached facilities in those areas. rice field.
“Reality could be worse,” Elder warned.
Aid workers are struggling to get the supplies they need in areas hit by violence.
At least 18 aid workers were killed in the fierce street fighting, according to the International Medical Corps.
The UN Human Rights Council said it would hold a special session next Thursday “to address the human rights impact of the ongoing conflict”.
Multiple ceasefires were agreed during the fighting, but none were honored.
U.S. Director of National Intelligence Avril Haynes said Thursday that Washington expects the conflict to continue for a long time.
“Both sides believe they can win militarily, and with little incentive to come to the negotiating table, the battle is likely to drag on,” she told a Senate hearing.
“Both sides are seeking outside help and, if successful, could escalate the conflict and increase the likelihood of regional spillover challenges.”
Nearly 450,000 civilians have already been forced from their homes since the fighting began, according to the International Organization for Migration, including more than 115,000 who have fled to neighboring countries.
– International mediation –
The United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, said it was preparing for an outflow of 860,000 people, adding that it would need $445 million to support them by October.
Haines, the head of the U.S. intelligence service, said the conflict had exacerbated an already dire humanitarian situation and was “concerned by the large flow of refugees in the region and the need for assistance.”
The United Nations warned that continued fighting could add 2.5 million more to the already large number of Sudanese at risk of hunger and malnutrition.
“In the next three to six months, that number will rise to a total of 19 million,” said Farhan Haque, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
Since the conflict began, mediation efforts have doubled.
Addressing the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, Burhan’s special envoy Dafa Allah al-Hajj, referring to the RSF, pledged that “the Sudanese government will soon end this rebellion.”
The RSF, descended from the Janjaweed militia liberated by Bashir in Darfur, has led to war crimes charges against former strongmen and others.
Barhan and Dagro have been embroiled in a power struggle after a joint coup in October 2021 overturned a fragile transition to civilian rule. More recently, it has escalated into bloody violence over the integration of the RSF into the regular army.
https://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/latest-news/warning-of-protracted-conflict-as-sudan-fighting-rages/news-story/3122cd98ac88a63976d545edd8228834 Sudan warns of ‘protracted’ conflict as fighting escalates