Aid groups have described a catastrophic humanitarian situation developing in Sudan’s Darfur, a region already battered by years of violence, after fighting in several cities caused widespread devastation and revived fears of a new civil war.

Witnesses and civil rights groups had reported mass looting, arson and pillaging since April 24 in major cities across the western Sudanese region, some 800km (500 miles) southwest of the capital Khartoum, where critical healthcare infrastructures have been targeted.

By Monday, residents and aid workers reported the return of relative calm in el-Geneina, Nyala and el-Fasher, respectively the capitals of West, South and North Darfur states, thanks to an agreement between local leaders. Yet, the level of destruction was such that the Committee of the Sudanese Doctors Syndicate warned on Wednesday of an “imminent catastrophe” due to lack of access to drinking water and food.