'Sudan bleeding to death': Aid situation worsens as fighting spreads
The Norwegian Refugee Council says blatant restrictions on entry into Sudan for humanitarian workers and aid supplies are leaving millions in need stranded.
As warfare extends to regions previously unaffected by the 10-week-old conflict between top generals, desperately needed relief supplies are being taken by the warring sides in Sudan, aid organizations reported on Friday.
As people vented their rage at the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) rival paramilitaries' extensive seizure of private residences, demonstrations in support of the regular army were organized on Friday in greater Khartoum and in the White Nile state to its south, according to witnesses.
The Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project reported that over 2,000 people have died as a result of the power struggle between army head Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan and his former deputy, RSF commander Mohammad Hamdan Dagalo, since April 15.
The primary battlegrounds so far have been Greater Khartoum and the volatile western region of Darfur, but last week locals reported a flare-up of fighting in the Kordofan region, the scene of another protracted uprising.
Witnesses on Friday reported increased street fighting and artillery exchanges in Khartoum, as well as "clashes between the army and the RSF" in the state of North Kordofan, hundreds of kilometers (miles) to the south.
More than half of Sudan's population, or a record 25 million people, the UN estimates, needs assistance and safety.
Aid organizations claim nearly insurmountable obstacles to their operations, despite the slow arrival of certain supplies for the crisis.
"Blatant restrictions on entry into Sudan for humanitarian workers and aid supplies are leaving millions in need stranded," according to the Norwegian Refugee Council's William Carter.
Similar challenges were identified by Doctors without Borders (MSF). Armed gangs have "beaten and violently threatened" personnel, taken equipment, and "delayed, rejected, rescinded, or plainly not respected" permits, it claimed.
Reported, documented cases no more than 2% of real figures
According to Sudan Doctors Union, which claims that medical workers have been targeted amid rampant breaches against civilians, two-thirds of health institutions in the main battlegrounds are still inoperable.
The government's Combating Violence Against Women and Children Unit has documented at least 36 instances of sexual assault in Khartoum alone, with the majority of victims blaming RSF members.
According to the Unit, "Reported and documented cases are no more than two percent of real figures," and they were unable to estimate the total number of cases in Darfur's western region, where "the situation is getting worse every day."
Due to the fact that both sides violated the previous 72-hour ceasefire, which concluded on Wednesday, diplomatic efforts to mediate an end to the fighting have come to a standstill.
The United States and Saudi Arabia mediated the ceasefire; the US said on Thursday it had suspended its efforts.
"On Wednesday, yesterday, we adjourned those talks because the format is not succeeding in the way that we want," US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Molly Phee told the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
"Those ceasefires have not been fully effective, although they have allowed the transmittal of important, urgently needed humanitarian assistance," she added.
The way Washington handled the ceasefire negotiations in the Saudi city of Jeddah, which they claimed were destined to fail, has come under condemnation from analysts.
Sudan specialist Alex de Waal said, "If Jeddah was the triage station before the emergency room, the duty doctors didn't diagnose the patient before setting to work."
According to him, sanctions put in place by Washington after a prior ceasefire at the beginning of the month failed would also be ineffective "until the mediators have fastened onto a strategy."
While this is happening, "Sudan is bleeding to death."