U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned two days of fighting between Sudan’s military and a paramilitary force that has killed dozens of people, including three U.N. workers for the World Food Program.
Guterres "strongly condemns the deaths and injuries of civilians, including the death of three staff members of the World Food Program in North Darfur, with a further two seriously injured," the U.N. chief's spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said in a statement, adding: "Those responsible should be brought to justice without delay."
The statement said, “United Nations and other humanitarian premises have also been hit by projectiles and looted in several locations in Darfur.”
The pro-democracy Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors reported at least 56 civilians had been killed, as well as “tens of deaths” among security forces, according to Agence France-Presse. The three U.N. workers raised the death toll to 59.
The group said more than 600 people, including combatants, had been wounded since the fighting erupted on Saturday.
Guterres reiterated a call for an immediate cease-fire between the warring groups, the U.N. statement said.
On Saturday, fighting erupted between army units loyal to General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, head of Sudan's transitional governing Sovereign Council, and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), led by General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, deputy head of the council, Reuters reported.
The U.N. had announced a three-hour cease-fire late Sunday afternoon between the two groups, yet residents told media that heavy explosions and continued gunfire, as well as airstrikes pounding RSF targets, could be heard Sunday night.
Earlier Sunday, heavy gunfire could be heard downtown around Sudan’s military headquarters and the presidential palace.
Both the military and the RSF have claimed control of these strategic locations.
The World Food Program says it has suspended operations in the country after three WFP employees were killed in the violence that erupted on Saturday.
The head of the Sudanese journalists’ syndicate, Abdulmuniem Abu Idris, told VOA via a messaging application that about 12 journalists, including four females, have been stranded in the Sudanese Kuwaiti business center since Saturday morning.
Abu Idris had earlier appealed to the warring parties to create a safe corridor for them to go to their families.
“I am calling on the two parties to create a safe passage for all the civilians inside the conflict areas, especially the journalists who have been stuck since yesterday,” he said.
The Sudanese-Kuwaiti business center is located east of the presidential palace along the River Nile. It is a working office space for many media outlets.
Abu Idris says described the area as a “serious” confrontation zone between the military and the RSF.
He says those journalists and other civilians would be in need of basic items to survive.
“They don’t have food; they are not in a safe area because they are inside the area of the exchange fires. And we are calling on the Red Crescent to intervene and rescue the civilians and those journalists,” he said.
Reports say recent tensions between the army and the RSF stem from disagreements with how the RSF should be integrated in the army and who should oversee that process. It’s part of an effort to restore the country to civilian rule and end a political crisis sparked by a military coup in October 2021.
The African Union’s Peace and Security Council held an extraordinary meeting Sunday in Nairobi to discuss the situation in Sudan. Participants appealed to the Sudanese military RSF leaders to de-escalate confrontation and restore stability.
Arab League countries also condemned the fighting in Sudan, calling for calm.
Egypt and South Sudan announced in a joint statement their intention to mediate between Sudan’s warring parties.
Some information for this article came from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.