Khartoum islanders ‘under siege’ as Sudan fighting rages

Battles have raged in Sudan’s war-torn capital of Khartoum and the residents of an island in the Nile reported being “under siege” amid desperate shortages.

A number of broken ceasefires have offered brief lulls but no respite for Khartoum residents, where witnesses again reported “the sound of heavy artillery fire” in the city’s north on Tuesday.

Witnesses also said there were “clashes with various types of weapons” in south Khartoum, where “the sound of explosions shook our walls”.

In the city centre, at the confluence of the White Nile and Blue Nile rivers, the island of Tuti is “under total siege” by paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), resident Mohammed Youssef said.

Paramilitaries have blocked the only bridge to the island and prevented residents from going by boat to other parts of the capital.

“We can’t move anyone who’s sick to hospitals off the island,” Youssef said, adding: “If this continues for days, stores will run out of food.”

‘Massive humanitarian crisis’

Eight weeks of fighting have pitted army chief Abdel Fattah al Burhan against his former deputy Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, who commands RSF.

Since the fighting began on April 15, more than 1,800 people have been killed, according to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project.

The United Nations says that more than a million and a half people have been displaced, both within the country and across its borders.

For those still in Khartoum and the western region of Darfur, which together have seen the worst of the fighting, the situation is growing increasingly dire.

“We face a massive humanitarian crisis that is only going to get worse with the collapse of the economy, collapse of the health care system,” the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) warned on Tuesday.

The danger will increase with “the flood season fast approaching and the looming hunger crisis and disease outbreaks that now are becoming more inevitable”.

Sudan’s annual rainy season begins in June, and medics have repeatedly warned that it threatens to make parts of the country inaccessible, raising the risks of malaria, cholera and water-borne diseases.

Some 25 million people, more than half the population, are now in need of aid and protection, according to the UN.



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