After days of bloody fighting in Sudan, concern for the civilian population is growing. The United Nations are now assuming at least 185 dead and 1,800 injured, including civilians, in the domestic power struggle. The north-east African country's medical committee called on the conflicting parties on Monday to end their "constant attacks" on hospitals, ambulances and medical staff. The EU intervened in efforts to find a solution. The Federal Foreign Office is now warning against traveling to the north-east African country.
German UN mediator Volker Perthes said after a UN Security Council meeting in New York that "international organizations and civilians" were not being protected in the skirmishes between the army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). In the capital, Khartoum, fierce fighting continued over bridges, the international airport and the army and RSF headquarters. Fighting is also going on in the Darfur region.
Attack on EU ambassadors
The EU ambassador to Sudan was attacked in his own residence, according to EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell. The act represents a serious violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, the Spaniard wrote on Twitter. The security of diplomatic premises and staff is primarily the responsibility of the Sudanese authorities and is an obligation under international law.
Borrell did not provide any information about the type of attack or the perpetrator or perpetrators. He also left it unclear whether the ambassador was injured or escaped with a fright. Borrell only wrote that the attack had happened a few hours earlier. The EU will be represented in the north-east African country by Irish diplomat Aidan O'Hara. Diplomatic circles said in Brussels that evening that O'Hara was fine and had not been injured.
The long-simmering power struggle between the army under the command of ruler Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and the rival RSF of his deputy Mohammed Hamdan Daglo escalated over the weekend. Given the confusing situation and contradictory information from both parties to the conflict, it remained unclear who had the upper hand on the battlefield.
Is a ceasefire possible?
Perthes announced new attempts to negotiate a resilient ceasefire on Tuesday. In talks, both sides blamed each other for the escalation. According to the German mediator, Al-Burhan and Daglo are under great stress, but are open to talks with the United Nations and other international actors. Borrell said they are working to convince both sides of a "humanitarian ceasefire."
The medical committee said that medical care for the population was being blocked by the shelling of health facilities. As a result, the sick and wounded can no longer be treated in many places. A safe evacuation of the patients is not possible, it said. In addition, many clinics have neither drinking water nor food. Local residents in the capital Khartoum continued to report shots and explosions. But fighting also continued in other parts of the country on the Horn of Africa.
The power struggle is causing chaos in Africa's third largest country in terms of area, with around 46 million inhabitants and rich oil and gold deposits. The army and the RSF both claimed control of the state broadcaster's building. The battles in Khartoum are concentrated on strategic points such as the army headquarters, the presidential palace and the airport. These are located in densely populated areas of the city.
Fighters also in apartment buildings
Artillery, tanks and fighter planes are deployed. The army flies air strikes on positions of the RSF. Residents and observers from Khartoum reported on social media over the weekend that RSF fighters had also taken up positions in residential buildings. The RSF leader and former vice Daglo called for international support. General Al-Burhan is "a radical Islamist who bombs civilians from the air." Islamist forces were among the supporters of longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir, who was ousted in 2019, and they continue to play a role in the army.
The broadcaster Sky News reported that Al-Burhan signaled willingness to talk in a telephone interview on Monday. "Every war ends in negotiations, even if the opponent is defeated," he said accordingly. The army will win - "definitely, God willing". Daglo, also known as Hemedti, and his unit have been accused of serious human rights abuses in the conflict in the Darfur region in the past.
In 2019, after civil protests, Daglo and Al-Burhan overthrew long-term dictator Omar al-Bashir and took power again in 2021. In the course of the transition to civilian government, the RSF were to be incorporated into the military, which led to a conflict. Daglo, on the other hand, accuses Al-Burhan of not wanting to give up his power.