Attempted Ceasefire in Sudan Fails, Raising Humanitarian and Security Concerns
An attempt at a ceasefire between warring military factions in Sudan failed again on Wednesday. Clashes between Sudan’s military and a paramilitary force have resulted in more than 270 deaths, and the World Health Organization estimates that at least 2,600 others have been injured.
The two military factions consist of the Sudanese Armed Forces, which are led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and the Rapid Support Forces, a collection of militia who follow the former warlord General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo. Al-Burhan is considered Sudan’s de facto ruler.
Both sides have claimed control of the presidential palace and the international airport in Khartoum—Sudan’s capital city.
The fight between the two factions has foundations prior to a 2019 uprising that ousted the dictatorial ruler Omar al-Bashir. After al-Bashir, there was an unsuccessful attempt to transition the country to a democratic civilian government.
“An eventual showdown appeared inevitable, with diplomats in Khartoum warning in early 2022 that they feared such an outbreak of violence,” The Guardian reported.
The fighting between the two groups broke out on 15 April after months of tension. Both sides agreed to a 24-hour ceasefire in response to attempts to deliver aid and secure citizens from other nations who are in the area, but the agreement failed almost immediately, according to The Washington Post.
Bombing was reported on Wednedsay around facilities that housed the army’s leadership in Khartoum. It is unknown if al-Burhan was in those facilities. Reuters reported that another area in the city has seen heavy gunfire—specifically an area where Dagalo has homes and family.
“Water and electricity cuts have been reported, and widespread violence has made it impossible for the wounded to reach hospitals,” the Post said. “One-third of Sudan’s population of 46 million is acutely food-insecure, the World Food Program has said.”
Al Jazeera correspondents in the area have reported a looming refugee crisis as an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 people have fled the area and sought safety in Chad, a neighboring country west of Sudan.
Meanwhile, the UN secretary-general has renewed calls for a cease-fire, hoping the sides will agree to a three-day peace in conjunction with the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Fitr.
“There’s a reason why the fighting that has erupted there over the past week is ringing so many international alarm bells,” BBC News reported. “…Whatever happens militarily or politically in the capital, Khartoum, ripples across some of the most fragile parts of the continent.”
The region holds strategic importance as it borders the Red Sea and is also agriculturally significant. It also borders seven other African nations.