A week-long ceasefire brokered by the US and Saudi Arabia and designed to allow the delivery of aid is at stake as residents report ongoing fighting.
Residents of Khartoum have reported artillery fire and warplanes flying over the Sudanese capital less than a day after an internationally monitored ceasefire came into effect.
The week-long ceasefire to allow humanitarian aid began on Monday at 21:45 (19:45 GMT) after five weeks of fierce fighting between the army, led by Sudan’s de facto leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), commanded by his former deputy Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo.
While fighting had continued during previous ceasefires, this was the first negotiated ceasefire signed by the military and the RSF, raising hopes for a successful end to a conflict that has left nearly 1.1 million people since April 15. drove people from their homes.
However, according to Al Jazeera’s Hiba Morgan, residents of the eastern part of Omdurman, the city across the Nile River from Khartoum, have been forced to stay indoors due to continued heavy artillery fire.
“We could also see plumes of smoke rising from the central part of the capital and we could hear fighter jets flying overhead,” she said from Khartoum on Tuesday.
Residents said that “from the moment of the ceasefire… they could hear heavy artillery. They said from the very beginning of the ceasefire that it had already been violated by both sides,” she added.
Khartoum, Omdurman and Khartoum-North form the largest capital of Sudan. They are separated by the confluence of the Blue Nile and the White Nile.
Witnesses also confirmed to Agence France-Presse news agency that heavy artillery was still being used on Tuesday. “Every few minutes there is an explosion,” said one resident.
Others in Khartoum reported to Reuters news agency that the ceasefire had brought a welcome change to their area after a rocky start overnight when they heard more gunfire and explosions soon after the ceasefire came into effect.
The ceasefire is the first to include a monitoring mechanism involving the military and RSF, as well as representatives from Saudi Arabia and the United States, who mediated after talks in Jeddah last week.
“If the ceasefire is violated, we will know and we will hold the violators accountable through our sanctions and other tools at our disposal,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a video message. .
The top US diplomat also announced on Tuesday that his administration would provide $245 million in additional aid to Sudan and neighboring countries affected by the ongoing humanitarian crisis.
Meanwhile, the Red Cross warned on Tuesday that it would be impossible to move large numbers of Sudanese refugees pouring into Chad before the start of the rainy season in late June. The rains cause flooding every year and higher numbers of cases of cholera and malaria. They make it difficult to provide aid, drive up food prices and pollute sources of drinking water.
“We know we can’t move them all before the rainy season,” Pierre Kremer of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies told a news conference in Geneva via video link from Nairobi on Tuesday.
“It is now a bit of a race to move as much as possible. … We are at risk of a major humanitarian disaster in this area,” he said.
The UN refugee agency estimated this week that 60,000 to 90,000 people have fled to the neighboring country since violence broke out in Sudan.