Clashes between rival military factions broke out in Sudan’s capital Khartoum on Wednesday (24 May) and spilled over into Thursday, effectively undermining the ceasefire agreed to on May 20 after talks in Jeddah mediated by Saudi Arabia and the United States.
Sporadic clashes between the Sudanese army and a powerful paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) punctured the relative calm in the capital of Khartoum, threatening to shatter a fragile ceasefire designed to allow for the delivery of aid and create conditions for a more lasting truce.
The ceasefire deal, which is being monitored by Saudi Arabia and the US as well as the warring parties, was reached after five weeks of fighting in Khartoum and other parts of Sudan, including the western region of Darfur. The army, commanded by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, relies on air power, while the RSF, led by former militia leader General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, has spread out and taken cover in Khartoum’s streets.
The ongoing fighting has worsened a humanitarian crisis, forced over 1.3 million people to flee their homes and threatened to destabilize the wider region. Like the previous ceasefire announcements, also the latest truce agreed last week seems to have largely failed to stop the fighting, with both the army and the RSF accusing each other of violating the agreement.
The United Nations human rights chief called the situation in Sudan “heartbreaking” and said there were “very deeply troubling” accounts of sexual violence in Khartoum and Darfur. UN humanitarian agency OCHA has said agencies were ready to deliver aid to more than 4 million people, if the relevant authorities take all steps possible to ensure safety for aid workers.