Air raids, gunfire and explosions rocked Sudan’s capital yesterday hours after rival generals agreed to a one-week ceasefire, the latest in a series of truces that have been systematically violated.
The truce is set to take effect at 9:45pm (1945 GMT) today, the US and Saudi Arabia said in a joint statement after talks in the Saudi city of Jeddah.
It “shall remain in effect for seven days and may be extended with the agreement of both parties”, the statement added.
In a deserted neighbourhood of Khartoum North, Hussein Mohamed is hoping that, finally, the guns will silence.
The UN says fighting has driven nearly 650,000 Khartoum residents from their homes, but Mohamed has remained, sheltering in place with his sick mother.
“They have announced truces that they have not held to before,” he said.
“We hope that this time mediators can monitor that the ceasefire is implemented.” In a statement published yesterday by the official Saudi Press Agency, Riyadh acknowledged the multiple truce violations since fighting began on April 15.
“Unlike previous ceasefires, the agreement reached in Jeddah was signed by the parties and will be supported by a US-Saudi and international-supported ceasefire monitoring mechanism,” the Saudi foreign ministry said.
The fighting pits the Sudanese army, commanded by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, against the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), led by Burhan’s former deputy Mohamed Hamdan Daglo.
Battles have killed around 1,000 people and displaced more than 1mn, internally and into neighbouring countries.Millions more are trapped with sporadic access to water, electricity or medicine.
Many have been separated from their families by unrelenting gunfire.
For Sawsan Mohamed, who lives in the capital’s south, the ceasefire — if implemented — “will be my first chance to see my mother and father in Omdurman”, just a bridge across the Nile River, she said.
Aerial footage last week showed a hellish scene in the Omdurman Market area, a heavily built-up district where multiple fires burned and people ran on rubble strewn streets.
Again yesterday, the UN aid chief, Martin Griffiths, called for the “safe delivery of humanitarian aid” and restoration of essential services.” The warring parties had signed on May 12 in Jeddah an agreement to respect humanitarian principles and allow in badly needed aid.
But since then, a UN report yesterday said there had been “at least 11 attacks against humanitarian premises in Khartoum, and four new attacks against health facilities”.
Along with the capital, the western region of Darfur has seen some of the worst violence.
“We do not trust the warring sides,” said Adam Issa, a shop owner in El Geneina, West Darfur. “Every time they announce a truce and they go back to fighting. We want a permanent ceasefire, not a temporary truce.” The UN has reported hundreds of people killed in West Darfur and yesterday said all 86 gathering sites for displaced people in El Geneina “have reportedly been burnt to the ground.”