Eight weeks of fighting in Sudan have decimated the country’s hospitals, killing nearly 2,000 people and displacing thousands as they try to escape the battles raging around them.
The two powerful foes tearing the country apart are army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his former deputy and ally, Mohamed Hamdan “Hemedti” Dagalo, who commands the powerful paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).
The two sides have agreed to a number of ceasefires, but their agreement proved to be nothing more than lip service as one truce after another offered brief lulls in the violence for the residents of Khartoum, but not a long enough peace that humanitarian supplies could get in or terrified people could get out.
In a scenario that repeated itself often, hours after the start of every ceasefire, witnesses would report “the sound of heavy artillery fire”.
Since the fighting began on April 15, more than 1,800 people have been killed, according to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project.
The United Nations says more than 1.5 million people have been displaced, both within the country and across its borders.
Washington slapped sanctions on the two warring generals last week, blaming both for the “appalling bloodshed” after a US- and Saudi-brokered truce collapsed and the army pulled out of ceasefire talks altogether, raising fears that it was preparing for an intensified assault on Khartoum.
Mediators have called for the resumption of negotiations in Saudi Arabia, and al-Burhan said on Tuesday that he had received a phone call from Saudi foreign minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, laying out conditions for talks.
Dagalo said he received a call from the top Saudi diplomat two days earlier, where he reiterated the RSF’s “support” for negotiations and “commitment” to ensure civilian protection and humanitarian relief.
Both sides blame each other for the humanitarian crisis, trading accusations of attacking hospitals, using civilian areas as shields and blocking the passage of humanitarian aid, whereas both claim that they are defending civilians.
However, “human rights officers are currently documenting dozens of incidents, including killings, arrests, possible disappearances, attacks on hospitals, sexual violence, and other forms of grave violations against children, committed by parties to the conflict”, the United Nations Mission in Sudan said on Monday.