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Civilians flee Sudan’s capital as war escalates over failed ceasefire

Thousands of residents have fled Khartoum, Sudan’s capital as the war between the army and paramilitary forces continues across the city for a fifth day.

A United States-brokered ceasefire between the army and paramilitary forces failed to hold, as continuous shelling, automatic rifle fire and loud blasts shook the centre of Sudan’s capital from first light on Wednesday.

The Guardian UK reported that the fighting seemingly focused around the defence ministry compound and the airport.

The truce between the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), which came after pressure from foreign powers, including the US, was supposed to allow residents trapped by the fighting to obtain desperately needed relief and supplies.

It, however, collapsed within minutes on Tuesday evening amid mutual accusations from the battling factions that the other had failed to respect the truce.

The fighting has involved army units loyal to Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the head of Sudan’s transitional governing sovereign council, and the RSF, led by Gen Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti, who is deputy head of the council.

According to the Guardian UK, their power struggle has derailed a shift to civilian rule and raised fears of a long, brutal civil war.

The director-general of the UN’s World Health Organization, Tedros Ghebreyesus, said on Wednesday that at least 270 people had been killed and more than 2,600 wounded since fighting began, without giving a breakdown of civilians and combatants killed.

According to the Sudan Doctors’ Union, the deaths of 30 civilians had been confirmed on Tuesday, though the total is likely to be much higher. There were also 245 civilians reported injured.

Two-thirds of civilian fatalities were recorded outside Khartoum, the new statistics showed, indicating how much of the fighting was occurring in remote regions.

In Nyala, in the restless South Darfur state, six people died and 63 were wounded as a main food market was set on fire and the offices of aid agencies looted.

Also, in al-Fashir, in North Darfur, nine people died and 36 were injured, while in Zalingei, in Central Darfur, five people died and 60 were wounded.

There were also reports of airstrikes and fighting around the international airport at the town of Merowe, a well-known archaeological site and commercial centre 270 miles (440km) north of Khartoum.

“The situation for civilians is not good anywhere in the country, but it is especially bad in the capital, Nyala and Merowe,” said one doctor contacted by the Guardian UK in Khartoum.

“Four of my colleagues have been killed. Almost all the main hospitals are suffering acute shortages in medical staff, medicine, water, electricity, fuel and food. Many patients have been sent home. For civilians, the main problems is the cut-off water and electricity supplies.

“I am personally in a place where there is no supply of water and electricity for two days,” the doctor asked for anonymity for fear of reprisals.

Across Sudan, prices of staples such as sugar, milk, flour and oil are increasing, aggravating an acute economic crisis.

Aid workers in al-Qadarif said long-life items such as dehydrated milk had disappeared from shelves. UN agencies said many of their programmes across the vast country, already in a precarious humanitarian situation, had been suspended.

On Wednesday morning, thousands of Khartoum residents began leaving their homes, some in cars and others on foot. “Khartoum has become a ghost city,” said Atiya Abdalla Atiya, secretary of the Sudanese Doctors’ Syndicate, who was still in the capital.

Source: vanguardngr

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