AFRICA/SUDAN - There is no respite for the Sudanese people: even the latest ceasefire attempt has failed

Tuesday, 23 May 2023

Khartoum (Agenzia Fides) - This morning, May 23, 2023, the truce between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), which came into effect last night, was broken (see Fides, 22/5/2023). Army helicopters bombed militia positions in Omdorman, the area of the capital Khartoum located west of the Nile. Both sides accused each other of being behind the violations. The agreement signed in Jeddah on Saturday May 20, 2023 provided for a ceasefire limited to seven days for humanitarian purposes, to evacuate the military from hospitals and government buildings.
Among the consequences reported by the local media are the already serious food shortages affecting the population. In Khartoum, a factory producing therapeutic food for malnourished children caught fire, destroying the care for 14,500 newborns. Dozens of factories were looted and burned, more than 60% of health facilities were damaged or had to close their doors due to the fighting. Furthermore, the ongoing conflict threatens the planting season, which is due to start at the end of May, and skipping the season will increase the number of people at risk of hunger. Meanwhile, commodity prices have risen sharply, which has increased the level of food insecurity.
Since the start of the conflict on April 15, 2023, nearly one million people have fled their homes. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that more than 940,000 people have been displaced, including more than 736,000 inside the country and nearly 205,000 who have sought refuge in neighboring countries.
Among these 940,000 displaced people, at least 450,000 are children, of whom 368,000 are internally displaced and 82,000 have fled to neighboring countries, according to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). The situation is particularly serious if one adds up the thousands of refugees and asylum seekers who had taken refuge in Sudan before the outbreak of the war. This is the case of the population who fled the conflict in Ethiopia between the national army and opposition forces in the northern region of Tigray and who have been displaced again.
Before the conflict erupted in April, Sudan had 3.7 million internally displaced people after years of political, interregional and ethnic conflict, and 1.1 million refugees and asylum seekers. Women and children make up over 75% of displaced refugees. (AP) (Agenzia Fides, 23/5/2023)