Chaos, lawlessness and fear grip much of Sudan. It's been a week since tensions between the country's two most prominent generals exploded into full-blown battles that have sprawled across the country of some 46 million people, turning the teeming capital, Khartoum, into a ghost town and triggering a wave of refugees fleeing for safety. Temporary cease-fires, including one over the Eid holiday, failed to stem the conflict, which at its root is a contest for power between Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, commander of the Sudanese armed forces and the de facto head of state, and Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, universally referred to Hemedti, who heads the influential paramilitary Rapid Support Forces.
In the shadow of their clashes, the Sudanese state is coming apart at its seams. Lacking power, water and vital supplies, or hit by heavy weapons, many hospitals have been forced to shut down. Armed groups of varying affiliation have looted houses and businesses, compelling civilians who have not found a way to escape to weigh the grim choice between hunger and deprivation indoors and the security risks outside. "Anything we hear in the news is a lie," a Khartoum-based science teacher told my colleagues. "The fire is getting stronger. We can't stay here. If you do not die from the bombs, you will die of hunger. There is nothing in the markets to eat."