South Sudan returnees sail Nile river back to their communities as they flee violence in Sudan South Sudan returnees sail Nile river back to their communities as they flee violence in Sudan  (ANSA)

Fighting intensifies in Khartoum

Fighting intensifies in Sudan’s capital, as the army seeks to defend key bases from paramilitary rivals it has been fighting for more than a month.

By Linda Bordoni

Khartoum residents said air strikes, explosions and clashes could be heard in the southern parts of the city, and there was heavy shelling across the River Nile in parts of the adjoining cities of Bahri and Omdurman.

The fighting between the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) began one month ago and has triggered unrest in other areas of Sudan, especially in the western region of Darfur, but is concentrated in Khartoum.

Humanitarian crisis

It has caused a humanitarian crisis that threatens to destabilise the region, displacing more than 700,000 people inside Sudan and forcing about 200,000 to flee into neighbouring countries.

Talks between the two warring parties began in Jeddah brokered by Saudi Arabia and the United States more than a week ago. So far they have produced a statement of principles around providing access to aid supplies and protecting civilians, but details regarding humanitarian corridors and agreeing to a ceasefire are still being discussed.

Pope Francis’ appeals

Pope Francis has reiterated his plea to the warring sides to find a negotiated solution to the crisis and has asked for prayers for the suffering population.

The war began after disputes over plans for the RSF to join the army and the future chain of command under an internationally backed deal for a political transition towards civilian rule and elections.

2019 coup

The Army chief and RSF commander took the top positions on Sudan's ruling council following the 2019 overthrow of former leader Omar al-Bashir during a popular uprising.

They staged a coup two years later as a deadline to hand power to civilians approached, but both sides began to mobilise their forces as mediators tried to finalise the new transition plan. (Source Reuters)

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16 May 2023, 16:02