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‘Our lives have become a piece of hell in Sudan’

21-11-2023

KHARTOUM: Seven months after the start of Sudan’s civil war, conditions for many in the capital, Khartoum, are worse than ever but some of those who escaped from the city in the early days are also struggling to survive.

Abdul-Aziz Hussein whose name has been changed for his safety took the decision in April to stay in Khartoum. He never thought the fighting between the army and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) would last so long.

“We are still besieged, and the fighting has not stopped,” he tells me when I get through by telephone.

“The RSF have penetrated the area and caused havoc, while the army is shelling their positions within the neighborhood. Death could come at any moment.”

An estimated 5,000 Sudanese people have already been killed in crossfire between these two warring branches of the military, while many more have been injured.

With his wife and three children, the 45-year-old teacher is now desperate to leave. Last month they almost did, but the fighting around their home in the suburb of Kalakla was too intense.

The area is now a ghost town, the family has not eaten for two days and even water is hard to find. Electricity, Hussein says, is a rare luxury.

The second time I call, Hussein tells me that marauding RSF soldiers are looting shops and people’s homes.

It’s like living in “a piece of hell”, he says.

The intense fighting in Khartoum and the western region of Darfur is causing serious problems with the distribution of aid, the UN says.

It says more than five million people have been displaced by the conflict and 24.7 million are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance.

Many have no access to clean water, increasing the risk of cholera and other diseases.

“We need a ceasefire that allows us to deliver humanitarian aid to those affected and assess the extent of their needs,” says the UN’s deputy special representative in Sudan, Clementine Nkweta-Salami.

“Most importantly, we need a permanent cessation of hostilities. We want this fighting to stop so aid can be delivered, and Sudanese people can resume their normal lives.”

A few short humanitarian truces were agreed in the early months of the war, but various ongoing peace initiatives are making little tangible progress. Unicef’s representative in Sudan, Mandeep O’Brien, told media a humanitarian crisis was looming.

“The war needs to stop now, for the sake of children and for the sake of the future of Sudan,” she says. “If the war continues, by the end of this year, we believe the situation will be catastrophic.”

Even those who escaped from Khartoum to the relative safety of Port Sudan, on the Red Sea coast, are often struggling to survive. (Int’l Monitoring Desk)

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