The United Nations’ World Food Program ceased operations in Sudan this weekend after three aid workers were killed during violent clashes between the country’s army and a powerful paramilitary group.
Volker Perthes, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sudan, reiterated on Sunday that international aid workers are “not a target,” condemning the slaying of three World Food Program employees in Kabkabiya, North Darfur. Two other staff workers were seriously injured.
“I also am extremely appalled by reports of projectiles hitting UN and other humanitarian premises, as well as reports of looting of UN and other humanitarian premises in several locations in Darfur,” Perthes said. “These recurring acts of violence disrupt the delivery of life-saving assistance and must end.”
Fighting broke out across Sudan on Saturday after months of rising tensions between the Sudanese armed forces, led by Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, and the Rapid Support Forces, a paramilitary group led by Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo. The two leaders are former allies who orchestrated a military coup in 2021 that removed a Western-backed administration.
At least 61 civilians have been killed and hundreds of others wounded over the past 48 hours, according to the Sudan Doctors’ Syndicate.
The U.S. Embassy in Sudan sent out a shelter-in-place notice on Saturday for staff in the capital of Khartoum, which is home to over five million people. Other American citizens are also encouraged to seek shelter.
“I just arrived late last night in Khartoum and woke up to the deeply disturbing sounds of gunfire and fighting. I am currently sheltering in place with the Embassy team, as Sudanese throughout Khartoum and elsewhere are doing,” U.S. Ambassador to Sudan John Godfrey said on Saturday.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, two regional powers located just across the Red Sea in the Middle East.
“We agreed it was essential for the parties to immediately end hostilities without pre-condition,” Blinken said in a statement.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.