Sudanese caught in the crossfire are struggling to find food, shelter and medical care as the conflict in Sudan continues.
Sudanese and foreigners have poured out of the capital Khartoum and other war zones as fighting has shaken a new three-day truce brokered by the United States and Saudi Arabia.
Aid agencies also sounded growing warnings on Tuesday about the crumbling humanitarian situation in a country reliant on outside help.
Al Jazeera’s Hiba Morgan reported from Khartoum that there was no ceasefire in some areas of the Sudanese capital. Intense clashes were reported near the presidential palace and the army headquarters.
“A hospital in the city of Omdurman was attacked [north of Khartoum] After the shelling; at least a dozen people were wounded and the hospital was closed,” she said, adding that the sick and wounded were evacuated to another hospital 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) away.
A series of brief ceasefires over the past week in fighting between forces loyal to the country’s two top generals since April 15 have either failed outright or subsided only intermittently.
The recent lull in fighting has spread enough to allow the evacuation of hundreds of foreigners by air and land, which continued Tuesday.
But they have brought little or no relief to the millions of Sudanese caught in the crossfire, struggling to find food, shelter and medical care as bombings, gunfire and looters ravage their communities.
Aid agencies have had to suspend operations and dozens of hospitals have been forced to close in a country where a third of its 46 million people needed humanitarian aid before the war.
The UN refugee agency said it was preparing for the possibility of tens of thousands fleeing to neighboring countries.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization expressed concern on Tuesday that one of the warring parties has seized control of the central public health laboratory in Khartoum.
“That’s extremely, extremely dangerous because we have polio isolates in our lab. We have measles isolates in our lab. The call spoke at a UN briefing in Geneva.
He did not specify which party took control of the facility, but said they had evicted technicians and cut power so they could not properly manage biological materials. “There is a huge biological risk.”
escape from violence
Calls for talks to end the crisis in Africa’s third-largest country fell on deaf ears. For many Sudanese, the departure of diplomats, aid workers and other foreigners and the closure of embassies are signs that international powers expect the chaos to only worsen.
Thousands of Sudanese have fled Khartoum and its neighboring city of Omdurman. Bus stations in the capital were packed with people who had spent the night there on Tuesday morning, hoping to board a departing bus.
Drivers are raising prices tenfold for routes to Egyptian border crossings or the eastern Red Sea city of Port Sudan. Fuel prices have soared from $4.20 a liter ($1.11 a liter) to $67 a gallon ($17.70 a liter), and food and water prices have doubled in many cases, the Norwegian Refugee Council said.
The new 72-hour ceasefire announced by Secretary of State Antony Blinken will last until late Thursday night, extending a nominal three-day truce into the weekend.
The United States has expressed confidence that it can exert influence in Sudan to induce warring parties there to reduce fighting.
White House national security spokesman John Kirby said in an interview with Al Jazeera on Tuesday that Washington will remain engaged in finding solutions to the crisis and continue to work with regional partners.
“We’re very confident we can make an impact here,” Kirby said, noting that the United States helped broker a 72-hour ceasefire on Monday.
“We have a stake here; we have an interest at the table; and we will continue to use that and the convening power of the United States to try to bring these two parties together to reduce violence.”