Sudan’s warring parties fought in the capital on Friday after the collapse of talks to maintain a ceasefire and ease a humanitarian crisis.
Residents of Khartoum and Omdurman across the Nile said the army had resumed air strikes and was using more artillery. But said there was no sign the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) was retreating from streets and homes it had occupied, they said.
“We are suffering so much from this war. Since this morning there have been sounds of violence. We’re living in terror. It is a real nightmare,” said Shehab al-Din Abdalrahman, 31, in a southern district of Khartoum.
Seven weeks of warfare between the army and RSF have smashed up parts of central Khartoum, threatened to destabilise the wider region, displaced 1.2 million people inside Sudan and sent 400,000 others into neighbouring states.
The United Nations Security Council on Friday condemned attacks on civilians and called on the factions to cease hostilities and ensure humanitarian access throughout the country, according to a statement.
The United States and Saudi Arabia on Thursday suspended truce talks after a ceasefire they had mediated fell apart, accusing both sides of occupying homes, businesses and hospitals, carrying out air strikes, other attacks and making prohibited military movements.
Washington imposed sanctions on businesses belonging to the army and RSF and threatened more action “if the parties continue to destroy their country”, a senior U.S. official said.
The army said on Friday it was “surprised” by the U.S. and Saudi decision to suspend the negotiations after it had made proposals for implementing the agreement, blaming the RSF for breaching the truce. The RSF on Friday blamed the army for the talks’ collapse, accusing it of repeated violations.
Sudan’s ambassador to Washington, Mohamed Abdallah Idris, said the government and army remained committed to the truce and any penalties should be “imposed on the party that did not abide by what it signed” – a reference to the RSF.
REFUGEES FLEE TO CHAD
Since the overthrow of longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir in 2019 Sudan’s government has been headed by a sovereign council under army chief General Abdel-Fattah al-Burhan with the RSF head Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti, as his deputy.
After they went to war on April 15 Burhan said he had dismissed Hemedti from the council, and government departments have remained aligned with the army.
Outside Khartoum, the worst fighting has been in the Darfur region, where a civil war in which about 300,000 people have been killed has simmered since 2003.
More than 100,000 people have fled militia attacks in Darfur in the west to neighbouring Chad since the latest fighting began, and the numbers could double in the next three months, the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR said on Thursday.
A truce was aimed at enabling aid to be delivered to civilians caught in the war that has disabled power and water networks, ruined hospitals and hampered food distribution.
Aid workers in Sudan say fierce fighting, rampant looting and reams of red tape are hampering aid. The United Nations called on all parties to respect humanitarian work.
Egypt and Qatar will work together on humanitarian support for refugees, Egypt said on Friday.
The WFP said it had recorded losses of more than $60 million since the fighting began. The UNHCR said two of its offices in Khartoum were pillaged and its warehouse in El Obeid was targeted on Thursday.
Khartoum residents are bracing for more problems.
“Since yesterday one telecom network has been down. Today another one is down. The power is out but the water has come back. It’s like they’re alternating forms of torture,” said Omer Ibrahim, who lives in Omdurman.