Sudan conflict

Warring Sudanese factions fight on after failing to agree truce

Warring Sudanese factions fight on after failing to agree truce
People who fled the violence in Sudan load their belongings on a vehicle after they crossed the Joda border between Sudan and South Sudan, 11 May 2023. Fleeing the armed conflict between the Sudanese military and the RSF (Rapid Support Forces) militia which started last 15 April, at least 30 000 people have arrived into South Sudan according to the UNHCR. Most of the refugees are part of some 800 000 South Sudanese who had fled the war in South Sudan in the first place and are returning to a country which is barely out of conflict itself with tensions still remaining in many areas and more than 2 million internally displaced people. Upon arriving at Joda border crossing the refugees head to a transit area set up by the UNHCR in the small town of Renk, where various UN agencies and NGOs assist them with registration, food, health check and logistics to leave Renk which is not equipped to house a large refugee population. EPA-EFE/AMEL PAIN

KHARTOUM, May 12 (Reuters) - Air strikes and artillery pounded Khartoum on Friday after Sudan's warring army and Rapid Support Forces paramilitary failed to agree a ceasefire despite committing to protect civilians and allow humanitarian access.

A so-called declaration of principles was signed in Saudi Arabia late on Thursday after nearly a week of talks between the two sides, but neither has yet released statements acknowledging the deal.

Since clashing suddenly on April 15 the rival military factions have shown no sign they are ready to offer concessions to end deadly fighting that has uprooted hundreds of thousands of people and could pitch Sudan into a full-blown civil war.

The conflict has paralysed Sudan’s economy and strangled its trade, aggravating a ballooning humanitarian crisis with the U.N. saying on Friday that 200,000 people have now fled into neighbouring states.

However, U.N. Sudan envoy Volker Perthes said he expected ceasefire talks to start again on Friday or Saturday and that while previous truces broke down because both sides thought they could win, neither now believes that victory would be quick.

His upbeat assessment contrasted with disappointment among many in the capital.

“We were expecting that the agreement would calm down the war, but we woke up to artillery fire and airstrikes,” said Mohamed Abdallah, 39, living in Khartoumas blasts were also heard in neighbouring Bahri.

In Darfur in the west, fighting between local militia and rebels suddenly flared again in the city of Geneina, with gunfire rattling neighbourhoods after two weeks of comparative calm and artillery hammering the city for the first time.

In other parts of Darfur, where a war has simmered since 2003 killing 300,000 people and displacing 2.5 million, locally arranged ceasefires between the army and RSF appeared to hold.



Thursday’s deal, the product of Saudi and US-brokered talks in Jeddah, includes commitments to allowing safe passage for civilians, medics, and humanitarian relief, and to minimize harm to civilians and public facilities.

U.S. officials said negotiations for a ceasefire would follow and Saudi Arabia called the agreement “a first step”. Mediators had pushed for the limited agreement to reduce tension over the wider ceasefire, one told Reuters.

However, a senior U.S. State Department official said the two sides “are quite far apart” and said he did not expect them to fully comply with the agreement.

The two sides agreed to quit private homes and other property but a family in Bahri said RSF fighters had tried to take over their house on Friday morning.

Khartoum residents have frequently accused the paramilitary of taking over houses and hospitals as part of a tactic to embed in districts through the city as it fights an army that can call on air power.

The RSF has denied the claim, accusing the army and other armed groups of invading property.

“The parties must convey clear and unequivocal instructions to lower ranks” to enforce Thursday’s agreement said the United Nations, African Union and regional organisation IGAD.

However, Cameron Hudson of the Center for Strategic and International Studies said he doubted the RSF had enough control over its fighters to do so.

Previous ceasefire agreements have been repeatedly violated, leaving civilians to navigate a terrifying landscape of chaos and bombardment with failing power and water, little food and a collapsing health system.



Many UN and other aid agencies have suspended aid to Sudan and in particular Khartoum, awaiting guarantees their stores and staff will be safe.

The World Health Organization has said at least 600 people have been killed and more than 5,000 injured in the fighting, but that real numbers are likely much higher.

The Health Ministry reckons at least 450 people were killed last month in West Darfur state alone.

In Darfur, the activist Gouja said Thursday’s deal could help solidify locally arranged ceasefires. “But if there’s no mechanism to monitor, then it won’t be an improvement,” he added.

Little humanitarian aid has reached Darfur’s main cities of Nyala and al-Fasher, Gouja said, with salaries unpaid for two months. In Geneina, local infrastructure has been destroyed and the health system totally disabled.

More than 700,000 Sudanese have been internally displaced, according to the UN.

By Nafisa Eltahir and Khalid Abdelaziz

(Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz in Dubai, Nafisa Eltahir in Cairo, and Emma Farge in Geneva; Writing by Nafisa Eltahir and Angus McDowall; Editing by Christina Fincher)


Comments - Please in order to comment.

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted

A South African Hero: You

There’s a 99.7% chance that this isn’t for you. Only 0.3% of our readers have responded to this call for action.

Those 0.3% of our readers are our hidden heroes, who are fuelling our work and impacting the lives of every South African in doing so. They’re the people who contribute to keep Daily Maverick free for all, including you.

The equation is quite simple: the more members we have, the more reporting and investigations we can do, and the greater the impact on the country.

Be part of that 0.3%. Be a Maverick. Be a Maverick Insider.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options

MavericKids vol 3

How can a child learn to read if they don't have a book?

81% of South African children aged 10 can't read for meaning. You can help by pre-ordering a copy of MavericKids.

For every copy sold we will donate a copy to Gift of The Givers for children in need of reading support.