Sudan’s humanitarian crisis takes center stage in Saudi Arabia talks

The humanitarian crisis escalating inside Sudan is expected to be at the centre of talks between representatives of the Sudan National Army and the Rapid Support Force to be held in Saudi Arabia.

According to the Sudanese Ambassador in Kenya, Kamal Gubar, there is a dire situation, especially in Khartoum, where the Sudanese government has alleged the RSF has taken over 11 health facilities and they are now under their control.

“The rebels are detaining families of the army officers, senior officials, and university professors, including women and children and using them as human shields,” stated Gubar at a press conference in Nairobi where he stated that the sentiments were from the government in Khartoum.

The talks announced to be undertaken by Saudi Arabia come after a seven-day ceasefire announced by the president of South Sudan this week has begun, and both parties are expected to comply with a humanitarian window for humanitarian supplies to come through into Sudan.

The Sudanese ambassador in Nairobi has reported that several batches of medical and other kinds of aid have arrived via the port of Sudan from counties like the Emirates with more expected within the next few days and weeks.

Currently, Sudan has 100,000 people in neighbouring Chad and Egypt seeking help, with another 300,000 stuck in various camps within the country.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, while addressing a UN meeting in Nairobi on the security situation, called for a complete cessation of hostilities between the warring parties that continue to accuse each other of violations of prior set humanitarian ceasefires.

RSF, via its Twitter handle, has condemned what they alleged is the “reckless actions of the coup leaders and extremist remnants of the Al Basher regime, who continue to violate the declared humanitarian truce by attacking our forces and residential areas since dawn today.”

The force, under the leadership of General Daglo, popularly known as “HEMEDTI,” has also accused the Sudan Armed Forces of subjecting RSF forces and civilians to indiscriminate artillery and aerial bombardment, in what they allege is a cowardly manner, constituting a flagrant violation of international laws and humanitarian principles.

But in a rejoinder Thursday afternoon, in Nairobi, the Sudanese government, via its Embassy, has deemed the RSF a rebel force that was created to support regular forces in accordance with a decree adopted by parliament that turned rogue after the signing of the Framework Agreement of December 2022 where the issue of handing over power to a civilian entity came up.

The Sudanese ambassador in Nairobi agreed that “while everyone was awaiting a meeting to end the crisis that had built up over time, on April 15th, 2023, the residence of the president of the sovereign council was attacked by the RSF with a mission to capture General Burhan and or take his life.”

The state also alleges that the palace, the Khartoum airport, radio and TV studios building on the western bank of the Nile, Malawi Airport, and the adjacent Military base in Northern Sudan, and the residences of armed Forces Commanders and Senior civilians were taken over by the RSF.

Sudan plunged into a crisis on that Saturday three weeks ago, with the International community joining forces to ensure that a ceasefire lasts, and the two sides sit at a negotiating table to see how to end the conflict.

“Sudan’s warring armies are showing reckless disregard for civilian lives by using inaccurate weapons in populated urban areas,” said Mohamed Osman, Sudan researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Rockets, bombs, and other types of explosive weapons are killing and wounding civilians and damaging infrastructure critical for access to water and medical care.”

The government is reporting the death of 35 soldiers on the initial day of the attack, whom it terms as gallant officers who lost their lives during a battle to rebuff the RSF from the Presidential palace.

“The rebels continued their violations against Diplomatic missions. The recent incidents were in attacking and looting the embassies of the Republic of Korea, India, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, and Turkey,” stated Ambassador Gubar in an update of the security situation in Sudan at the moment.

International Body Human Rights Watch, in its latest update on the situation in Sudan, noted that the fighting has damaged at least 16 hospitals, while dozens of others have had to shut down due to a lack of supplies, water, electricity, and staff.

“On April 18, two aerial bombs hit one of Khartoum’s largest public hospitals, El Shaab, forcing the hospital staff to evacuate the patients. Only the Sudan military is known to possess and operate SAF aircraft in Khartoum,” stated HRW in a statement.

The outbreak of hostilities followed weeks of mounting tensions between the army chief, Gen. Abdelfattah al-Burhan, and the RSF leader, Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (“Hemedti”), who together led a coup against Sudan’s transitional government in October 2021.

The fighting quickly spread to Khartoum’s adjoining cities of Omdurman and Bahri – a metropolitan area of 6.5 million inhabitants – as well as provincial towns including El Fasher, Nyala, and then El Geneina in Darfur and El Obeid in North Kordofan.

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