Khartoum (Raxanreeb ) On Wednesday, the United Nations urged Sudan’s warring factions to ensure the safe passage of humanitarian aid, following the looting of six trucks and air strikes in the capital that undermined a supposed truce.
Martin Griffiths, the UN’s aid chief, said he hoped to have physical meetings with the warring parties within two to three days to secure guarantees for aid convoys to deliver relief supplies. The meeting could take place in Khartoum or another location.
“It’s important to me that we meet physically, face-to-face to discuss this, because we need it to be a public, accountable moment,” Griffiths stated in a phone interview with Reuters from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, following a visit to Port Sudan intended to plan a large-scale relief operation.
The UN has warned that fighting between the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), which began on April 15, risks causing a humanitarian catastrophe that could spill into other countries. Sudan reported on Tuesday that 550 people had died, with another 4,926 wounded, in the conflict.
Air strikes were still occurring in Khartoum and the adjoining cities of Omdurman and Bahri on Wednesday, despite an agreement to extend a series of shaky and broken truces for a further seven days from Thursday.
In Khartoum, millions were still trying to shelter from open warfare between an army using air strikes and heavy artillery and RSF forces embedded in residential neighbourhoods. Most hospitals were out of service, and many areas were without power and water as supplies of food and fuel dwindled.
With international mediators pressing for peace talks, Sudan’s army said it would send an envoy for talks with South Sudan, Kenyan and Djibouti leaders. Aid has been held up in the nation of 46 million people, where about one-third had already relied on relief assistance.
Earlier, Griffiths stated he had been informed by the UN’s World Food Programme that six of their trucks travelling to the western region of Darfur had been looted en route, despite assurances of safety and security.
In Nairobi, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stated that the international community must tell the two leaders that the situation is unacceptable. The two generals must face pressure to stop fighting, begin dialogue, and allow a transition to civilian government, he said.
Burhan’s envoy, Dafallah Alhaj, said in Cairo that the army accepted talks, but there would be no face-to-face discussions with the RSF, and communication would be through mediators. South Sudan had said both sides agreed to the ceasefire and to send representatives to talks.
Hemedti stated in a tweet on Wednesday that he was committed to “opening and securing safe corridors.” The RSF later claimed on Facebook that its forces “still control 90% of the three cities of Khartoum” and affirmed a “full commitment to the declared humanitarian truce.”
According to the UN, about 100,000 people have fled Sudan with little food or water to neighbouring countries. The conflict has spread to Darfur, where the RSF emerged from tribal militias that fought beside government forces to crush rebels in a war dating back 20 years. The army and RSF joined forces in a coup two years ago and had shared power as part of an internationally backed transition towards free elections and civilian government.