Sudan Conflict: Urgent Call for Assistance as Violence Escalates

The escalating conflict in Sudan between the army and a paramilitary force has led to immense suffering for the residents of Omdurman, as intense fighting and aerial bombardments continue to ravage the city. In the midst of this devastating violence, a desperate plea for gravediggers has been circulated on social media, highlighting the surging number of casualties and the inability to provide proper burials. The conflict, now entering its fifth month, shows no signs of abating, with reports indicating that this is the most intense fighting since the war began in April.

The army’s objective is to dislodge the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) from key areas of Omdurman, and they have resorted to employing both aerial bombings and ground shelling to achieve their goal. The coveted bridge across the Nile, connecting Omdurman and Khartoum North, serves as a strategic point that the RSF currently controls, making it a focal point for the army’s offensive. The continuous sound of gunfire has become an eerie backdrop to the city’s daily life, but the thunderous booms of the explosives have generated unprecedented fear among the populace. Smoke billows from countless buildings during the day, while at night, explosions illuminate the sky like sinister shooting stars.

The effects of the conflict are not confined to the combat zones alone. The heavy artillery barrage launched by the army on west Omdurman resulted in the deaths of two civilians and numerous injuries. It also triggered a wave of evacuations, with frightened citizens cramming into mini-buses in an attempt to seek safety, either within north Omdurman or farther away from the capital. However, escape has become increasingly difficult as neighboring borders remain closed.

The dire situation has elicited heart-wrenching testimonials from survivors, expressing their desperation and longing for a respite. Bakita Hassan, a 44-year-old resident of Ombadah, vividly describes the chaos and terror engulfing the city, with people fleeing even in torrential rain and utter darkness due to power cuts. As a result, the exodus from affected areas continues unabated, leaving behind an atmosphere of desolation and uncertainty.

The RSF positions in Old Omdurman have borne the brunt of the army’s attacks, but clashes between armed groups have erupted in various locations, including near residential areas. Many innocent civilians have fallen victim to the crossfire and artillery misfires, further underscoring the indiscriminate nature of the violence. In one instance, an ice-cream vendor, beloved by the community, suffered a leg injury caused by shrapnel. This incident only serves to highlight the unpredictable and devastating impact of the conflict on the lives of ordinary citizens.

The escalation of violence has also resulted in severe disruption of daily life and a nationwide scarcity of essential supplies. Markets that once provided vegetables and meat now stand devoid of produce, as most vendors have fled in fear. Those who remain face mounting challenges as the looting of banks and the failure of mobile money transactions have left them financially stranded. While international efforts to mediate a ceasefire are ongoing, there appears to be little readiness for negotiations from army chief Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and the RSF’s leader, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo.

Trapped in an endless cycle of offensives and counter-offensives, civilians in Omdurman are caught in the crosshairs, weary from the constant barrage of violence and instability. As the conflict intensifies, urgent humanitarian assistance is needed to address the growing number of casualties, ensure access to essential supplies, and provide refuge for those displaced by the fighting. Only through a concerted international effort and a commitment to dialogue can Sudan hope to transcend this cycle of violence and find a path towards lasting peace and stability.