‘Flagrant violations’ of Sudan truce as ICRC convoy is fired on and Tawila attacked

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Africa delivering medical supplies to a health centre in El Fasher, North Darfur, last month (ICRC Africa)

KHARTOUM / TAWILA – June 20, 2023

Khartoum continued to see a relative calm yesterday, the second day of the 72-hour humanitarian truce. Yet, some fighting was recorded in Omdurman and both sides accuse each other of violating the truce as gunfire reportedly prevented the transfer of wounded soldiers to hospitals by the ICRC and attacks occurred in North Darfur’s Tawila locality.

The 72-hour truce went into effect on Sunday at six in the morning and has been said to have been agreed upon in order to not jeopardise a donor conference held in Geneva yesterday afternoon in which the international community pledged financial support for the humanitarian situation in Sudan.

People living in El Fitihab in Omdurman told Radio Dabanga that the neighbourhood witnessed clashes with light weapons yesterday afternoon, while the rest of the neighbourhoods witnessed relative calm.

Listener Bashir El Sadig told Radio Dabanga from Khartoum that the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) did not leave the homes they are occupying.

He said that the suffering of civilians is worsening because salaries are not paid and there is a lack of water. Electricity provision is relatively regular in some neighbourhoods at the moment. 

Incidents of looting and theft have reportedly increased significantly since the truce lulled the fighting.

ICRC convoy

The RSF accused the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) of violating the truce and firing on its forces whilst they were escorting an International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) convoy carrying wounded army personnel in Khartoum.

The RSF said the attack wounded one of its officers overseeing the evacuation and endangered the lives of members of the ICRC. 

The forces highlighted that there had been a prior agreement, signed in Jedda, between the RSF, the SAF, and the ICRC on the evacuation of wounded soldiers. They also said that the attack took place at the last point in the area under their control, before the ICRC was scheduled to begin the evacuation process as agreed.

According to the RSF statement, the army fired heavily on the convoy, which they consider a “flagrant violation of the ceasefire and the declared humanitarian truce”.

The armed forces deny the RSF accusations and said that the ICRC had “informed us that they had reached the start of the evacuation point in Bahri [Khartoum North] at 10:07. At 10:49, they informed us that they were subjected to gunfire by snipers on Kober Bridge, an area where the rebel militias have elements and where the armed forces do not have troops stationed”.

The spokesperson for SAF stated that the ICRC representatives had not complied with the agreed-upon evacuation protocol.

“We would like to point that that there is an agreed-upon protocol with the representatives of the ICRC regarding evacuation processes and a map with identified routes for movement, but the ICRC did not commit to this protocol.”

‘We would like to point that that there is an agreed-upon protocol […] but the ICRC did not commit to this protocol’

– SAF Spokesperson

“The ICRC insisted on the delegation having escorts from the rebels during evacuation processes, a violation to the protocol agreed upon,” the army lamented, and said that the convoy never started at Bahri hospital but instead “followed the scenario above which caused a hindrance to the process”.

It called on the ICRC to carry out its humanitarian mission based on the agreed-upon protocol “with neutrality”. The army also said that it would never shoot at its own wounded soldiers.

Tawila fighting

In a separate statement yesterday, the SAF announced that it had repelled an RSF attack in Tawila, North Darfur.

“In a blatant violation to the ceasefire […] members of the rebel militia attacked Tawila locality in North Darfur for the second consecutive day, after attacking civilians on Sunday,” the spokesperson said.

At least 15 were killed and others were injured in those two days, according to the statement, “leading to their displacement to the headquarters of the armed forces”. “Today the rebels attack the civilians and the army, and our forces repelled the attack and managed to defeat them and inflict heavy losses.”

As both parties spread propaganda, it can be hard to verify information.

A civil society group from North Darfur and the Darfur Victims Solidarity Association said yesterday evening that the RSF had managed to seize an SAF garrison in Tawila yesterday morning, killing a number of armed forces soldiers.

The groups reported a “clear violation of the armistice”.

The El Fasher Resistance Committees also reported an attack on Tawila on Friday evening, before the truce.

According to the International Organisation for Migration’s displacement tracking matrix, about a thousand families fled Tawila town and the neighbouring Rwanda camp in Tawila locality on Saturday as a result of clashes between the army and the RSF on Friday.

The affected families are seeking shelter in the camps and villages adjacent to Tawila according to the matrix. 

The situation remained tense. The area is currently inaccessible to humanitarian actors. Incidents of looting were reported in markets and residential areas in the town.

Embassy break-in

The Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs accused the RSF of breaking into the Embassy of the Republic of Zimbabwe and the ambassador’s residence, stealing cars and valuables, vandalising furniture, and tampering with documents.

In a statement, the incident was considered “a flagrant violation of international norms and laws concerned with the sanctity and protection of the headquarters and property of diplomatic missions”.