15 May 2023

Today marks a complete month of fighting between the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum while conflict reignited last Friday in Geneina, the capital of West Darfur State.

Just hours after the signing of the Jeddah Agreement, fighting between militias linked to the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and the army broke out in the restive capital of West Darfur.

من صفحة ابراهيم عبد العزيز على فيسبوك - https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=2961851483959099&set=a.124820750995534&__cft__[0]=AZXLuYHw14gar3fcWSAjGgRTKZoifQbQYHJFFHSrYAlb_9lRT217LPx_lZu9COM9rBD4JHJbNk04xFPR-PDaOIdtcljOvEfdbgH17yO9PvCjl7gGJ4OKx-QfK1n4XGIEbxQ&__tn__=%2CO*F
Displaced in Geneina, West Darfur State (social media)

From 12 – 13 May, the Doctors Syndicate said that roughly 280 people were killed and 160 injured because of the clashes in El Geneina. One medical source told Ayin, however, that there are no accurate estimates on the number of dead or injured since it is impossible to make field assessments due to the ongoing insecurity. With no medical facilities open since the previous conflict on 24 April, an escalating death rate is all too possible, the same source claimed. Geneina residents said the most recent attacks have taken place across the city including Al-Buhaira, Al-Thawra, Al-Tadamon, Al-Majlis, and Al-Madares neighbourhoods.

A mosque in Geneina, damaged in the fighting (social media)

The US-Saudi brokered Jeddah Declaration was signed over the weekend by the warring parties, ostensibly designed to ensure civilians had safe passage out of the conflict zones and could access humanitarian aid. Both the army and the RSF spuriously agreed in the document that the “well-being of the Sudanese people is our top priority” and that they would “ensure civilians are protected at all times”.

Sudanese artist Shaden Hussein (Ahram Online)

Khartoum, Omdurman

But as war reignited in Geneina, so too did shelling, and bombing in Khartoum and the city’s sister city, Omdurman. One of the casualties of the fighting was Sudanese singer Shaden Hussein, who had made multiple posts via social media, calling for an end to the war.

Since Saturday, street battles and warplane bombings in the capital have targeted numerous sites, eyewitnesses told Ayin, including the Al-Azharhi suburb in Khartoum, Khalifa Market in North Omdurman, and Halfaya Bridge in Bahri, northern Khartoum. Warplanes have also bombed RSF forces in southern Omdurman, including Umbudda, Wad al-Bashir, Mansoura, and Saliha, witnesses said.

Citizens within the capital hope the Jeddah Declaration will eventually convince the two military leaders, Lt.-Gen. Abdelfattah Al-Burhan from the army and Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (“Himmedti”) from the RSF, to control their forces and ensure the security of civilians. But the constant shelling, residents say, does not encourage them.

“This war proved to us, within a month of its outbreak, that the army and the Rapid Support Forces do not respect human rights in their struggle,” says Khartoum resident Zeinab Madhi. “The army has used the air force to bomb inside cities that contain thousands of innocent civilians while the Rapid Support Forces continue to kill, rob, and occupy the homes of people.” Before any declaration is signed, Mahdi added, the two sides need to “understand the basic ethics of war”.

Over the past few weeks, the US and Saudi Arabia have routinely claimed a humanitarian cessation of hostilities has been reached, according to Ahmed Fareid El Tayeb, a former advisor to Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok. “However, after each announcement, the battle between the warring parties immediately escalates, indicating that these efforts have little influence or capacity in the real world,” writes El-Tayeb. Instead, he says, the deliberations in Jeddah only act as a platform for the warring parties to speciously claim their alignment with the US and Saudi Arabia –an alignment both the army and RSF are competing over.