‘We Don’t Want This War’: Trapped in Khartoum as Combat Rages


Nurses maneuvered through gunfire and shelling to make house calls, deliver babies, and care for those who could not reach hospitals. As temperatures soar, families barely eat to survive dwindling food and water supplies. And the few Good Samaritans who step out to help the elderly or put out a blazing fire face intimidation and arrest by combatants in the streets.

It’s been almost a month since a rivalry between two generals in Sudan erupted into open war, plunging the country into a humanitarian crisis and upending life again in one of Africa’s largest and geopolitically important nations. shaped.

The Sudanese capital, Khartoum, has seen the most intense fighting, forcing embassies and the United Nations evacuate your citizens and employees Members – leaving millions of people who are now facing shortage of water, food, medicine and electricity.

The conflict – between the Sudanese army and the paramilitary group known as the Rapid Support Forces, or RSF – continues despite frequent cease fire Reportedly agreed to by both the parties.

Talks started in Saudi Arabia Negotiations between the warring sides over the past weekend, brokered by the Saudis and the Americans, have so far produced no breakthrough – even though these talks have only the modest goal of reaching a de facto ceasefire, to allow humanitarian aid into the country.

“We are feeling increasingly desperate, as there is no end in sight,” said Tagrid Abdeen, a 49-year-old architect who took refuge with her husband and three sons in al-Diyum, close to Khartoum’s international airport. Some of the fiercest battles.

Ms. Abdeen, who spoke by phone, said she spends most of her days driving her boys from one end of their apartment to the other as shelling rages from above. When things cool down, she lets them sit near open windows to escape the scorching heat.

“It’s an unseen tragedy,” she said, adding that she preferred the noise of war over the humming silence. “At least when there’s a shootout, I know they’re running out of ammunition.”

The Sudanese army made a concerted push into central Khartoum on Wednesday, using ground troops supported by armored vehicles, to push into areas largely controlled by the RSF since the war began, two people with knowledge of the situation said. Said, those asked not to be identified due to sensitivity.

Both people said the army’s operation appeared to be an attempt to gain ground before any possible ceasefire agreement could be signed. He said a deal was out of reach as of late Wednesday, but it looked like it was getting closer.

Four years ago, Khartoum was at the center of a popular uprising that promised to usher in democracy after decades of dictatorship in the northeast African country of 45 million people. But in the past month, the city at the confluence of the Blue Nile and the White Nile has become center of a violent power struggle between General Abdel Fatah al-Burhanarmy chief, and Lieutenant General Mohammad HamdanWho leads the paramilitary Rapid Support Force.

there have been clashes spread to many cities and regions, and across the Nile in the nearby cities of Khartoum, Bahri and Omdurman. The World Health Organization said on Tuesday that at least 600 people have been killed and more than 5,000 others injured. The conflict has displaced more than 700,000 people, according to the United Nations, and another 160,000. have fled many of them to border countries beset by economic and political crises of their own,

Khartoum residents say they have stayed behind either because they are ill, caring for elderly relatives, or lack money for passports or transportation. Others, like Ms. Abedin, chose to stay after hearing about people on the street being attacked and looted, and long days across the border,

Yet they are increasingly caught in the crossfire and deteriorating conditions on the ground.

Water and electricity infrastructure has been damaged. Banks were looted and ATMs were smashed. Phone and internet networks are in disarray, cutting off communications and hampering mobile money transactions that act as lifelines. Factories and businesses have been destroyed and looted, depriving many of income in an economy already in crisis.

On social media, people posted requests for pain relievers or eye drops, and asked for tips on where to find running water or where to bury a relative in a neighborhood under siege from snipers.

It is now difficult to talk to any resident on the phone. But Ms. Abedin recently provided a glimpse of what happened when she stepped out of her apartment on April 15 for the first time since the battle began to find medicine for her 80-year-old mother, who is bedridden and suffering from high blood pressure. are suffering. She said that the roads near her house, which are usually packed with people and traffic, were deserted. A building several doors down from his location was damaged by shelling. Garbage and debris piled up on the corner. Taxis crowded a fuel station looking for gasoline. The crowd expected a bakery to open and offer some bread.

Ms. Abdeen said, “It was completely unrealistic.”

As the fighting intensified, hospitals, clinics and laboratories, which had already working under pressurehave come under rapid attack.

Most of the city’s health facilities are closed and only 16 percent are operating normally, the UN said. The Sudan Union of Pharmacists said Khartoum’s central medical supply facility, which holds vital drugs for diabetes and blood pressure, was closed after it was seized by Rapid Support Force.

The United Nations Population Fund also said that medical care had been disrupted for 219,000 pregnant women in Khartoum alone, with supplies “running dangerously low.” More than 10,000 women are in urgent need of obstetric care, including C-sections.

Medical workers in the city have also faced retaliation.

Sudan Doctors Association Said On Monday, the army arrested two medical volunteers who were evacuating patients from a hospital in Khartoum. Both were later released after an uproar on social media.

At checkpoints manned by paramilitary forces, many people, and especially doctors, reported being harassed or having their phone messages and photos checked to determine their allegiance.

“Doctors are not supporting any of these groups,” said Dr. Sarah Abdelgalil said in a phone interview. “We don’t want this war.”

Ms Abdelgalil, who has been supporting and co-ordinating funds for medical workers in the UK where she lives, said she had been inundated with requests from Khartoum over the past few days. He said doctors are asking families and patients to vacate the hospital as they are running out of oxygen, medicines or fuel to run the machines.

“It’s so inhumane,” she said. “It’s so cruel.”

Some residents of Khartoum who had been on the outskirts are now starting to flee to the city’s suburbs.

Aya Elfatih and her family recently fled to a small village in the northern suburbs of Khartoum after their house was hit by bullets and pieces of its roof collapsed. Ms Elfatih, 33, works with a non-governmental organization and was admitted to the hospital only a few weeks ago. Helping refugees from other countries to settle in Sudan. Now, he and his family have been driven from their home, and there are fears violence will spread to the now quiet countryside.

“I never thought I would live to see my condition,” she said. “Sudan deserves peace. We deserve better.

Declan Walsh Contributed reporting from Nairobi.

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