Gunfire, airstrikes breach ceasefire in Sudan on first day
Witnesses in Khartoum report breaches in the ceasefire, which entered into effect on Monday at 9:45 pm as hospitals reach a critical stage amid supply shortages.
Clashes and airstrikes were reported in Khartoum, Sudan, minutes after the previously agreed-upon ceasefire came into effect on Monday night, witnesses told AFP.
Gunfire was heard north of the capital, while airstrikes shook areas in east Kharotoum just after 9:45 pm (local time), which marked the commencement of the one-week ceasefire agreement that is meant to allow humanitarian aid into areas of conflict.
"Beyond official announcements, Sudan is still pounded and bombarded, with millions of civilian lives at risk," the Regional Media Adviser for East Africa & Yemen at the Norwegian Refugee Council, Karl Schembri tweeted.
Media please note: Beyond official announcements, #Sudan is still pounded & bombarded, with millions of civilian lives at risk. We've had over a month of broken promises & empty words while humanitarian colleagues were killed together with children & others & hospitals destroyed https://t.co/e3ss9fP2yB— Karl Schembri / ابو سلمان (@Karl_Schembri) May 22, 2023
Shembri pointed to the multiple broken truces between the warring parties of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF).
"We've had over a month of broken promises and empty words while humanitarian colleagues were killed, together with children and others and hospitals destroyed."
Since fighting broke out on April 15, around 1,000 have been killed, including civilians, as clashes centered around highly populated urban areas in Sudanese cities.
The events were followed by a huge outflux of refuge seekers as more than one million people have been displaced, including more than 250,000 who have fled Sudan across borders, creating regional fallout.
Earlier on Monday, residents expressed their worries regarding the possibility of a successful ceasefire, which would have enabled them to get back in touch with stranded relatives and find access to humanitarian aid.
"Fighter jets are bombing our neighborhood," said Mahmoud Salah Al-Din, a resident of Khartoum.
He added, "We have seen no sign that the Rapid Support Forces are preparing to withdraw from the streets," as the RSF entrenched themselves in neighborhoods of the capital.
The seven-page agreement for a ceasefire, negotiated by Saudi Arabia and the United States, was signed on Saturday by both warring parties.
The mediators said the deal would be abided by, unlike previous agreements — none of which stood the test of time — since it was "signed by the parties" who met in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and was supplemented by a "ceasefire monitoring mechanism."
The leaders of the SAF and RSF were obliged to instruct their troops about the details of the ceasefire and to ensure they comply, however, the UN envoy to Sudan, Volker Perthes, told the United Nations Security Council that "fighting and troop movements have continued even today, despite a commitment by both sides not to pursue military advantage before the ceasefire takes effect."
No room for peace
Hours before 9:45 pm on Monday, the leader of the RSF Mohammad Hamdan Dagalo released a voice message addressing his supporters. Dagalo's statements contradicted the expected ceasefire as he said to his fighters, "It is either victory or martyrdom, and victory will be ours."
Another resident of Khartoum, Souad Al-Fateh, described the dire situation in Sudan, "We are all hungry, the children, the elderly, everyone is suffering from this war. We have no more water," adding that the two groups need to "find an agreement."
Others have given up on the possibility of peace as Thuraya Mohammed, a resident of the southern part of the city, said that a truce would be a chance to escape, since "Khartoum is no longer a place fit for life. Everything has been destroyed."
On Monday, the Doctors Union said that "the only hospital that had remained servicing" the two districts east of the capital had been closed after RSF troops were reported "assaulting and intimidating patients, families and medical staff" at the facilities, while members of the SAF were "personally threatening" hospital workers.
Medical professionals have continuously complained about the difficult circumstances under which they are operating, with fighting cutting supplies short and putting the healthcare system under the threat of collapse, especially in Western Darfur.