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Sudan aid needs surge as fighting rages on in Khartoum

Smoke billows in the distance in Khartoum amid ongoing fighting between the forces of two rival generals. — AFP
Smoke billows in the distance in Khartoum amid ongoing fighting between the forces of two rival generals. — AFP

KHARTOUM/GENEVA: The United Nations said on Wednesday more than half Sudan's population now needed aid and protection, as civilians sought shelter from air strikes and sporadic clashes between rival military factions in the Khartoum area.

Residents said power had been cut, food was in short supply, and drinking water scarce due to the violent power struggle, now in its second month despite international mediation efforts.

In Geneva, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said 25 million people needed help - the highest number ever recorded in Sudan. Before the conflict, the figure was around 15 million. It appealed for $2.6 billion in aid.

Signalling no let-up in the conflict between the Sudanese army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), anti-aircraft guns and drones could be heard on Wednesday in the capital, residents reported.

"We have been moving from one place to the other in past days," said 27-year-old Abbas al Sayyed, speaking from Bahri, epicentre of a conflict that has killed hundreds of people.

The army led by General Abdel Fattah al Burhan has been using air strikes and shelling in a bid to root out RSF fighters under the command of General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti, who are entrenched in residential areas of Khartoum.

Across Sudan, the fighting has uprooted around 1 million people, 220,000 of whom have fled into neighbouring states.

Talks mediated by the United States and Saudi Arabia in Jeddah have so far failed to secure a ceasefire.

The sides agreed last week to a statement of principles on protecting civilians and allowing aid supplies, but arrangements for humanitarian corridors and agreeing a truce are still being discussed. Several previous ceasefires have failed to stop the fighting.

The conflict is likely to feature on the agenda of an Arab Summit hosted by Saudi Arabia on Friday. Sudan is expected to be represented by special envoy Dafallah Alhaj while Burhan, the de facto head of state, will remain in Sudan.

Air strikes continued into the evening in Khartoum on Tuesday. Early on Wednesday, the situation was relatively calm, with sporadic clashes in some neighbourhoods, witnesses said.

Ramesh Rajasingham, head of OCHA in Geneva, said the appeal for nearly $2.6 billion for operations from May until October was the highest ever for Sudan. The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said it was seeking $472 million to assist more than 1 million people over the next six months. — Reuters

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