In Sudan, ceasefire negotiations have stalled. The Sudanese army has suspended its participation in truce talks with its paramilitary enemies, under the auspices of the United States and Saudi Arabia, a government official told AFP on Wednesday (May 31st).

The army made the decision because "the rebels never implemented any of the provisions of a short-term ceasefire, which required their withdrawal from hospitals and residential buildings, and they violated the truce repeatedly," the Sudanese official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The U.S. and Saudi mediators said late Monday that the army and paramilitary rapid support forces (RSF), at war since April 15, had agreed to extend for five days the humanitarian truce they had frequently violated over the previous week.

Fighting was still raging on Tuesday, despite the extension of the ceasefire in an attempt to deliver life-saving humanitarian aid to the famine-brink country.

No truce

Air raids and clashes continued late into the night on Tuesday in Khartoum and Darfur, a vast region bordering Chad, residents told AFP.

"There is no ceasefire in Sudan," said researcher Rashid Abdi of the Rift Valley Institute.

"There is a huge gap between the reality on the ground in Sudan and diplomacy in Jeddah," in Saudi Arabia, where U.S. and Saudi mediators negotiated the truce with envoys from both sides, he wrote.

The war has already killed more than 1,800 people, according to the NGO Acled, and nearly one and a half million displaced people and refugees according to the UN. A balance sheet probably undervalued.

"Looting has become commonplace in Khartoum, with neighborhoods completely raked," said a humanitarian from the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).

And the two belligerents do not seem to want to silence the guns.

"The army is ready to fight until victory," Burhane said as he visited his troops in Khartoum on Tuesday. The RSF says it continues to exercise "its right to defend itself" against "violations of the truce by the army".


Risk of famine

Before the war, Sudan was already one of the poorest countries in the world. One in three residents suffered from hunger, long power cuts were daily and the health system was on the verge of collapse.

After nearly seven weeks of war, 25 million of Sudan's 45 million people need humanitarian aid to survive, according to the UN. Among them, more than 13.6 million children, says UNICEF, including "620,000 in a state of acute malnutrition who, for half, could die if they are not helped in time".

Three-quarters of hospitals in combat zones are out of order, the rest have almost no equipment or medicines.

So far, humanitarians have only been able to deliver small quantities of food or medicine because their employees cannot move and their cargo is blocked at customs.

"The food aid distributed weeks ago was only enough for a few days" in Madani, a town south of Khartoum that hosts the capital's displaced, NRC's Ahmed Omer said, describing those "sleeping on the floor, sick children, pregnant women and the elderly who need life-saving care".

In Darfur, some areas are cut off from the world, without electricity, internet or telephones, and activists say they fear the worst, as refugees in Chad recount killings and fires born of the fighting.

While Riyadh and Washington regularly welcome a decrease in violence, others are already planning a long war and long-term destruction. The Haggar Group, a heavyweight in the agricultural sector, Sudan's largest employer, has announced that it is suspending its activities and investments in the country.


Fear of 'all-out civil war'

Many Sudanese now fear "an all-out civil war", according to the Forces of Freedom and Change (FLC), the civilian bloc ousted from power in the 2021 putsch led by the two generals, then allies and now at war. Calls to arm civilians are growing.

In Darfur, already ravaged in the 2000s by a deadly war, local militias, tribal fighters and armed civilians have joined the fighting. Governor Minni Minnawi, a former rebel leader now close to the army, on Sunday called on people to take up arms "to protect their property".

"We must arm ourselves, because everyone is in danger," said Aboubaker Ismaïl, a resident of the region, speaking of attacks on residents in their homes, or looting.

But, said Mohammed Hassan, a resident of Nyala, the capital of Southern Darfur, calling on civilians to arm themselves is "totally irresponsible: it is a very dangerous call that can lead us to civil war".

Chad, South Sudan and Ethiopia, neighbouring states themselves plagued by violence, fear contagion and demand aid from the UN, which in return repeats that it has received only a tiny share of its donors' funds.

And in a few days, the rainy season will begin and with it the fear of epidemics of malaria or cholera.

With AFP

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