KHARTOUM (AFP) -- Sporadic artillery fire still echoed through Sudan’s capital Tuesday but residents said fighting had calmed following a ceasefire, raising faint hopes in the embattled city.
Witnesses in Khartoum reported a welcome respite after a rocky start to the one-week humanitarian truce which took effect the previous evening only to be quickly marred by more gunshots and blasts.
By around noon on Tuesday, witnesses reported a relative calm had taken hold, both in greater Khartoum and in the Darfur region’s cities of Nyala and El Geneina, which have been among the other main battlegrounds.
“We have not heard shelling in our neighborhood since last night,” said a witness in southern Khartoum, who told AFP the last airstrike was five minutes before the truce formally started at 9:45 pm (1945 GMT) on Monday.
More than five weeks of war have pitted the army, led by Sudan’s de facto leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, against the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces of his former deputy Mohamed Hamdan Daglo.
The battles since April 15 have killed an estimated 1,000 people, forced more than a million to flee their homes and sparked mass evacuations of foreigners and major refugee flows into neighboring counties.
People have run low on water, food and basic supplies, and more than half the population, 25 million people, are in need of humanitarian aid, according to the UN.
As the uneasy silence held in Khartoum, residents desperately hoped for a pause in combat to allow in life-saving humanitarian aid, and to enable more people to flee the strife-torn city of five million.
A series of previous ceasefires were quickly shattered, and a foreign aid group Monday voiced frustration about the crisis which has piled new misery on the already poverty-stricken northeast African nation.
“Beyond official announcements, Sudan is still pounded and bombarded, with millions of civilian lives at risk,” Karl Schembri of the Norwegian Refugee Council wrote on Twitter.
“We’ve had over a month of broken promises and empty words while humanitarian colleagues were killed, together with children and others and hospitals destroyed.”
Volker Perthes, the United Nations envoy to Sudan, told the UN Security Council on Monday that “fighting and troop movements have continued even today, despite a commitment by both sides not to pursue military advantage before the ceasefire takes effect”.