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Fighting continues in Sudan as ceasefire week draws to a close | Sudan

Gunfire and shelling rocked the Sudanese capital on the last day of an often-violated ceasefire, as calls to arms fueled fears that the six-week war would intensify.

People said they could hear street fighting in the north of Khartoum and artillery fire in the south of the city of more than five million people that has become a war zone.

Frightened residents have ventured out in search of food or water, which has doubled since the start of the war, since the truce began a week ago. But thousands of families continued to shelter in place, rationed water and electricity, while desperately avoiding stray bullets.

Toby Harward of the UN refugee agency said continued fighting in Darfur, which borders western Chad, was in “blatant disregard for the promise of a ceasefire”.

“Intermittent fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces in El Fasher in northern Darfur over the past few days” has resulted in civilians being killed, homes looted and tens of thousands displaced in the already war-torn Haward area, it said. .

According to the United Nations, the ongoing fighting has hindered the delivery of basic humanitarian aid, on which more than half the population of 25 million people depends.

A week ago, representatives of Army Chief of Staff Abdul Fattah al-Burhan and his former deputy, Mohammad Hamdan Dagalo, pledged to suspend ongoing airstrikes, artillery fire and street fighting in order to provide much-needed aid and free the country. Civilians fled.

But by the seventh day of the truce – set to expire at 9.45pm local time (2045 BST) on Monday – humanitarian corridors had still not been secured, with aid only flowing in to replenish the few still functioning in the capital Hospital.

In East Darfur, more than 30 babies have died in a hospital since the fighting began, including “reported deaths of six newborns in just one week from problems such as lack of oxygen caused by power outages,” according to the World Health Organization. “.

Since April 15, at least 1,800 people have been killed, more than a million others have been displaced inside Sudan and nearly 350,000 have fled to other countries.

Sudan’s neighbors — many already facing economic crisis or mired in instability — worry about regional spillovers and have requested assistance from the United Nations, which itself has reported serious funding gaps.

The United Nations sounded the alarm again on Monday, saying Sudan had become one of the highest alert areas for food insecurity, requiring urgent international action.

Aid agencies also say parts of the country will be inaccessible as the rainy season approaches in June, while the risk of cholera, malaria and water-borne diseases will rise.

Sudan’s already fragile health sector faces complex challenges, with three-quarters of hospitals in the war zone out of service, according to doctors’ unions. Even health facilities in areas largely unaffected by fighting and looting have been unable to resupply as they scramble to serve the influx of people displaced by the fighting.

Both the military and Reporters Without Borders have said they are willing to discuss extending the ceasefire called for by U.S. and Saudi mediators.

But Riyadh and Washington said “both sides are posing for further escalation”.

On Sunday, the governor of Darfur – a former rebel leader allied with the military – called on civilians to take up arms.

The army has called on reservists and pensioners to arm themselves, while tribes in the east of the country had earlier asked for weapons.

The Umma Party, one of Sudan’s main civilian groups, warned against “calling on citizens to arm themselves under the pretext of protecting themselves”, calling it an “attempt to drag the country into civil war”.

Even if the truce is likely to be extended, the UN has warned of new potential dangers amid “increasing reports of unexploded ordnance” in the capital and other populated areas.

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