KHAROUM: The Sudanese army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces blamed each other on Saturday for a strike that damaged a bridge over the Jebel Awlia dam south of Khartoum, the latest piece of key infrastructure to suffer in a seven-moth war.
The extent of the damage to the dam was unclear, but severe damage to the dam threatened major flooding of the White Nile.
In recent weeks, a bridge in the capital Khartoum and a crucial oil depot were damaged in strikes, for which the two forces also blamed each other.
Fighting has raged in recent days in the Jebel Awlia area, an impoverished district in southern Khartoum state, displacing thousands. The RSF said earlier this month that it had seized an army base in the area.
The local “emergency room” volunteer group said in statements that civilians were killed in raids by the Rapid Support Forces, as well as in the crossfire as the army and RSF traded artillery in the area.
Exact numbers have been hard to get amidst damage to telecom networks.
Sudan is facing a convergence of a worsening humanitarian calamity and a catastrophic human rights crisis.
Martha Ama Akyaa Pobee, UN assistant secretary-general
Fighting broke out in Khartoum in April amid tensions between the army and Rapid Support Forces over integrating their forces during a transition to democracy.
Since then, the RSF has taken control of most of the capital, Khartoum, on the ground and has been expanding southward.
Simultaneously, it has managed to take control of most of the western Darfur region, with analysts saying it has gained momentum in its efforts to cement control over as much of the country as possible, bolstering its position in ongoing peace talks.
Sudan has also informed the UN chief of the “immediate” end of the UN political mission in the country, according to a letter circulated in the Security Council.
In an official letter in Arabic dated Thursday, accompanied by an English version from the Sudanese ambassador to the UN, Foreign Minister Ali Elsadig Ali informed Antonio Guterres of “the decision of the government of Sudan to terminate the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan with immediate effect.”
According to the English version, the mission had aimed to “assist the transitional government of Sudan after the December 2018 revolution,” but the government said the mission had proven “disappointing.”
However, Khartoum said it would continue to work “constructively” with the UN.
Guterres spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the mission’s mandate was scheduled to end on Dec. 3.
“The secretary-general has appointed Ian Martin to lead a strategic review of the UN Mission in Sudan to provide the Security Council with options to adapt the mission’s mandate,” he said.
Guterres was also appointing Algeria’s Ramtane Lamamra as his envoy for Sudan.
“We will continue to engage closely with all actors, including the Sudanese authorities and members of the Security Council, to clarify next steps,” Dujarric said.
UNITAMS employs 245 people, including 88 in Port Sudan and others outside Sudan in Nairobi and Addis Ababa, Dujarric confirmed.
In an address to the Security Council on Thursday, the UN assistant secretary-general for Africa, Martha Ama Akyaa Pobee, denounced the spread of the conflict to other parts of Sudan, which already has the largest number of displaced people in the world.
“Sudan is facing a convergence of a worsening humanitarian calamity and a catastrophic human rights crisis,” she said.
Narly 25 million people need humanitarian aid in Sudan, UN humanitarian operations chief Martin Griffiths said on Monday.
The civil war has left more than 10,000 dead, according to an estimate by the NGO Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, a figure that is widely considered an underestimate.