Sudanese still await aid on day two of tense ceasefire
Fighting eased in Sudan on Wednesday, the second full day of a ceasefire that has allowed beleaguered civilians to venture out, even as they await safe aid corridors and escape routes.
Sporadic air strikes and artillery fire have still boomed across the capital, residents told AFP, but US and Saudi observers said "fighting in Khartoum appeared to be less intense" since the one-week humanitarian pause entered into force late Monday.
Washington and Riyadh, which brokered the ceasefire between the forces of two rival generals, however pointed to reports "indicating that both sides violated the agreement".
Nonetheless, they stressed preparations were underway "to deliver lifesaving assistance" to the people of Sudan, who have endured more than five weeks of fighting that has claimed more than 1,800 lives, according to updated figures released Wednesday by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED).
Aid agencies had already been ramping up deliveries despite the killing of some of their workers, looting of their facilities, and most hospitals being unable to function in conflict areas.
Humanitarians have sought safe corridors so assistance can reach the 25 million Sudanese - half the population - who the UN says need aid.
The war broke out on 15 April, sparking frantic mass evacuations of thousands of foreigners and forcing more than 1.3 million people to flee their homes internally and across borders.
The chaos has left millions hunkering down in their homes to hide from the bullets and roaming looters amid power blackouts and shortages of water, food, medicines and other staples.
Residents in various district of the capital on Wednesday reported columns of black smoke rising as some fighting continued.
"In spite of successive ceasefires, civilians continue to be exposed to serious risk of death and injury," United Nations rights chief Volker Turk said.
The fighting pits Sudan's de facto leader, army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, against his former deputy, Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, nicknamed "Hemeti", who commands the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).
Battles have displaced more than a million people inside Sudan, the International Organization for Migration reported on Wednesday, with a further 319,000 people seeking refuge across borders.
Numerous ceasefires were previously announced and immediately violated, but the US and Saudi Arabia said this one is different because it is a signed deal supervised by a monitoring committee.
A mass exodus has continued into neighbouring countries, including Chad, Egypt and South Sudan, sparking regional fears the conflict will spread across borders because of transnational ethnic ties.