KHARTOUM: Air strikes pummelled Khartoum on Saturday, with representatives of Sudan’s warring factions meeting in Saudi Arabia for talks to prevent a “humanitarian catastrophe” as the fighting entered a fifth week.
A witness in west Khartoum reported army air strikes on paramilitary forces, as brutal urban warfare continued in Sudan’s densely-populated capital.
More than 750 people have been killed and hundreds of thousands displaced since fighting erupted.
Over half a million people have fled Khartoum alone, according to the UN, with hospitals there having been shelled and rampant looting reported as residents suffer under chronic shortages of food, electricity and medicine.
Representatives of both generals have been in the Saudi city of Jeddah for a week, for talks intended “to protect Sudan from any escalation that will lead to a humanitarian catastrophe”, a Saudi diplomat said on condition of anonymity.
The diplomat also said Burhan had been invited to attend the Arab League summit planned to take place in Jeddah on May 19 but it was unclear who would be representing Sudan.
Envoys in Jeddah agreed to “affirm our commitment to ensure that civilians are protected”.
However the deal, dubbed the Jeddah Declaration, did not amount to a truce and the situation on the ground appeared unchanged as battles raged throughout the week of negotiations and into Saturday.
In the capital’s twin city of Omdurman, “houses are shaking from the force of explosions”, a witness said reporting “clashes using all kinds of weapons”.
Thursday’s deal commits both sides to let in badly needed humanitarian assistance and also calls for the restoration of electricity, water and other basic services.
Sudan launched on Saturday a call to the international community, including the United Nations, the African Union, and other regional organisations, “to provide humanitarian assistance”, a foreign ministry statement said.
The government committed to “dedicating the port and airports of Port Sudan” on the Red Sea, Dongola airport in the country’s north and Wadi Seidna air base near the capital “to receive aid”.