What to know as Sudan war enters its first month
One month after the conflict began in Sudan, the country’s capital is a desolate war zone where terrified families seek refuge in their homes as gunfights rage outside in the dusk-covered, deserted streets.
Those who are still alive continue to be barricaded throughout Khartoum, hoping to avoid stray bullets while dealing with severe food and supply shortages.
There are frequent power outages, money shortages, broken communications, and skyrocketing prices.
Even during the decades-long sanctions against former strongman Omar al-Bashir, the city of five million on the Nile River was for a long time a place of relative stability and wealth.
It is now only a husk of what it once was.
Foreign embassies are closed, there are burned-out airplanes on the airport tarmac, and looters have broken into hospitals, banks, stores, and wheat silos.
What’s left of the government has fled to Port Sudan, located 850 kilometers (528 miles) away, the focal point for massive evacuations of both Sudanese and foreign residents, while the generals fight.
According to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project, the battles have claimed the lives of over 750 people. Nearly a million people have been displaced, thousands more have been injured, and long refugee convoys have been sent to South Sudan, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Chad.
Fuel costs 20 times as much as they did before the war, and some food prices have quadrupled.
There have been numerous truce agreements that have been quickly broken, and there is little hope of an end to the fighting that has caused more suffering for the 45 million citizens of one of the poorest countries in the world.
According to Alex Rondos, the former special representative of the European Union to the Horn of Africa, both sides “break ceasefires with a regularity that demonstrates a sense of impunity unprecedented even by Sudan’s standards of civil conflict.”
A brief history of coups
Though Sudan has a long history of coups, optimism increased after large-scale pro-democracy demonstrations forced Bashir, who was supported by Islamists, from office in 2019. This was followed by a rocky transition to civilian rule.
Sudan was gradually reintegrating into the international community as Washington and other foreign powers lifted sanctions, but the generals derailed that transition in 2021 with another coup.
Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the head of the army, and Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) commander, were at odds on April 15 over the integration of paramilitaries into the army.
Since then, there have been numerous shots, aerial bombardments, and anti-aircraft fire, but neither side has been able to gain the upper hand.
Although Daglo is reportedly supported by the United Arab Emirates and foreign fighters, the army, which is supported by Egypt, theoretically has the advantage of air power. He is in charge of the Janjaweed militia, which is notorious for its atrocities during the 20-year-old Darfur conflict.
According to Cameron Hudson of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Russian mercenary group Wagner is not engaged in combat but does have “technical advisers” in Sudan.
Avril Haines, director of national intelligence for the US, stated at a Senate hearing in early May that “both sides believe that they can win militarily” for the time being.
In Sudan, where one in three people already depended on humanitarian aid prior to the war, the fighting has exacerbated the country’s humanitarian crisis.
Since then, there have been at least 18 humanitarian workers killed and aid organizations looted.
The UN has warned that up to 19 million people could face food insecurity in the next six months.
‘Poorer for longer’
Representatives from both sides are negotiating in the Saudi city of Jeddah across the Red Sea.
By May 11, they had agreed to uphold humanitarian principles, such as the protection of civilians, and, more broadly, to permit the entry of desperately needed humanitarian aid.
Aly Verjee, a Sudan researcher at Sweden’s University of Gothenburg, said that “absent a significant change in mindset from the warring parties, it is hard to see that commitments on paper will be fulfilled.”
Sudan has a long history of conflicts, particularly in the western region of Darfur, where Bashir began arming and using the Janjaweed in 2003 to put down a rebellion against what the insurgents claimed was Arab elite dominance of Sudan’s wealth and power.
The UN estimated that at its height, the scorched-earth campaign may have killed 300,000 people and uprooted more than 2.7 million.
The majority of the deaths during the recent fighting, according to the health ministry, have happened in Darfur.
According to the ministry, 199 people had died in Khartoum, but at least 450 had died by May 10 in El Geneina, the capital of West Darfur state, and its environs.
According to reports, snipers are still present in the area and are shooting at people as they leave their homes, Human Rights Watch researcher Mohamed Osman told AFP.
He continued, “There are also reports of people dying from the injuries they sustained in the early days of fighting” as hospitals were destroyed.
According to the humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders, “people have gone from three meals a day to just one” due to food shortages in the Darfur refugee camps.
According to Verjee, the fighting throughout the nation has destroyed factories and workshops and led to “the partial deindustrialization of Sudan.”
The future Sudan will therefore be much poorer for a much longer period of time.