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Foreigners Flee, But Many Sudanese Can't

FILE: People gather to get bread during clashes between the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces and the army in Khartoum North, Sudan, April 22, 2023.

KHARTOUM - As foreign governments airlifted hundreds of their diplomats and other citizens to safety, Sudanese on Monday desperately sought ways to escape the chaos, fearing that the country’s two rival generals will escalate their all-out battle for power once evacuations were completed.

For many Sudanese, the evacuation airlift of foreign nationals was a terrifying sign that international powers, after failing repeatedly to broker cease-fires, only expect a worsening of the fighting that has pushed the population into disaster.

During nine days of warfare in Khartoum and other cities, millions have been trapped in their homes by explosions, gunfire and armed fighters looting in the streets while food supplies run out and hospitals near collapse.

Amani el-Taweel, an Egyptian expert on Africa, warned of “horrific suffering” for Sudanese unable to leave.

While Sudanese who can afford it make their way to Egypt or Chad, the poor “will suffer greatly as they will have no access to aid or food,” said el-Taweel, with Egypt’s Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies.

Humanitarian aid can no longer reach Sudanese because of the clashes, and once evacuations are complete, “warring parties will not heed any calls for a truce or a cease-fire,” she said.

Fighting raged in Khartoum and Omdurman, a city across the Nile River, residents said, despite a hoped-for cease-fire to coincide with the three-day Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr. Heavy gunfire and thundering explosions rocked the city.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told reporters in Luxembourg on Monday that “We have to continue pushing for a political settlement. We cannot afford that Sudan, which is a very populated country, implodes because it will be sending shock waves around the whole (of) Africa,” he said. He earlier tweeted that he had spoken with the rival commanders appealing for a cease-fire.

The army chief, Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, and the RSF leader Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, however, have so far appeared determined to fight to the end.