ICRC condemns Sudan ‘bloodshed’, says unable to get vital aid into country in war

As shelling continued to pound the Sudanese capital of Khartoum on Friday, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said the violence between the warring factions have made it impossible to get vital aid into the country.

Despite Sudan’s army saying it agreed to a three-day truce starting on Friday to enable the Sudanese people to celebrate the Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr, reports of ongoing violence have continued after almost a week of conflict.

The fighting has made it difficult for the Sudanese people to leave their homes to obtain supplies or join the droves departing Khartoum. Mirjana Spoljaric, the ICRC President, said they are unable to get aid to the civilians trapped.

“For the last week the world has watched in horror at the appalling scenes of violence and bloodshed in Sudan,” she said. “When battles rage in residential areas, it is civilians who pay the highest price.”

“I am deeply concerned by the level of civilian suffering in Khartoum and other parts of the country. Residents are calling my colleagues in Sudan every day to plead for help to escape the violence. Families have been torn apart and people are running out of food and water after being trapped indoors with no respite. The warring parties must do everything possible to keep civilians out of harm’s way.”

“The parties have not given us the necessary security guarantees,” she said. “This cannot go on. We implore the parties to grant the ICRC immediate and unimpeded humanitarian access to assist Sudanese civilians in need. This is not optional – it is a legal obligation under international humanitarian law.”

“Last week, we delivered medical supplies for people wounded in fighting to hospitals in al-Fasher and Zalingei, in the western region of Darfur. But more must be done – and right away. Volunteers from the Sudanese Red Crescent Society provide first aid in clinics and hospitals in Khartoum, Merowe and Darfur, but they need supplies. Our urgent priority is to get medical assistance to more hospitals and to work to make repairs to their water and power infrastructure. We are ready to deliver more supplies as soon as there is a pause in the fighting.”

Eid al-Fitr “should be a time of joy and celebration,” Spoljaric added. “No one wants to see the bloodshed continue or for the violence to turn into a far greater protracted crisis. What people need right now is a meaningful pause in hostilities to allow humanitarian aid to be brought in and for people to get to safer areas.”

On Friday, the United Nations, US, UK, Japan, Switzerland, South Korea, Sweden and Spain said they were making preparations or attempting to evacuate their personnel after almost a week of violence.

Forces commanded by two previously allied leaders of Sudan’s ruling council began a violent power struggle last weekend. Hundreds have died, and a nation reliant on food aid has been tipped into what the United Nations calls a humanitarian catastrophe.

Artillery fire continued in Khartoum late on Friday, a Reuters witness said, though less intense than earlier in the day. The fighting dealt the latest blow to international attempts to end the fighting.

The army and its adversary, the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), said separately they agreed to a three-day truce to enable people to celebrate the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr.

“The armed forces hope that the rebels will abide by all the requirements of the truce and stop any military moves that would obstruct it,” an army statement said.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged the combatants to honor the truce, and said Sudan’s military and civilian leadership must urgently start negotiations on a sustainable ceasefire to prevent further damage to the country.

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