• Thu. Jun 8th, 2023

Sudan’s warring generals agree to seven-day ceasefire, diplomatic efforts step up to end conflict

Sudan’s warring generals have agreed “in principle” to a seven-day ceasefire, the government of neighboring South Sudan said on Tuesday, after regional envoys denounced repeated violations of previous truces.

Diplomatic efforts have intensified to end more than two weeks of war in Africa’s third-largest country as warnings mount of a “catastrophic” humanitarian crisis.

More than 430,000 people have already been forced to flee their homes, according to the United Nations.

Hundreds more were killed and thousands injured.

Sudanese army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his deputy-turned-rival, Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, who commands the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), “agreed on the principle of a seven-day truce days from 4 to 11 May”. the foreign ministry in Juba said in a statement.

Several truces agreed since the fighting began on April 15 have been repeatedly violated, including one announced by South Sudan at the start of the war.

Witnesses reported further airstrikes and anti-aircraft fire in Khartoum on Tuesday.

The repeated violations drew criticism earlier Tuesday at a meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, of the Expanded Mechanism on the Sudanese Crisis which brought together African, Arab, UN and other representatives.

The two generals have agreed truces – the latest on Sunday – but “continue to fight and bombard the city”, said Ismail Wais, of the North African bloc IGAD which includes Sudan and South Sudan.

– ‘Safer’ –

“Our priority today is to ensure that the ceasefire is extended and respected, and then to ensure humanitarian assistance,” said the chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, opening the meeting.

The subsequent agreement of the week-long truce came during a telephone conversation that South Sudanese President Salva Kiir had with the warring parties as part of the IGAD initiative for a pause in the fighting. , said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Juba.

“We will have to see if this is accepted by all parties and if it is implemented by the forces on the ground,” said Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for the UN chief.

Kenyan President William Ruto said earlier that the conflict had reached “catastrophic levels” and that it was imperative to find ways to deliver humanitarian aid “with or without a ceasefire”.

The UN refugee agency said more than 100,000 people are believed to have fled to neighboring Sudan.

Despite dire humanitarian needs, the UN said on Tuesday its 2023 aid appeal for Sudan was $1.5 billion short.

But some help has arrived in the country.

After the World Health Organization (WHO) dispatched six containers of medical equipment, including trauma treatment supplies, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said on Tuesday it had delivered 10 tons of supplies to a hospital in Khartoum as teams prepared to “launch emergency relief”. response activities. »

Only 16% of hospitals in Khartoum are now fully functional, according to the UN.

A Sudanese doctor, Howida Elhassan, posted a video on social media of medical staff struggling to deal with a surge of injured civilians at a hospital in the Eastern Nile district of Khartoum.

Blood appeared to stain the floor of the overcrowded facility where patients, one of whom appeared to be grimacing in pain with blood on his shirt, lay or sat on beds.

“On days when there is fighting in the region, we receive between 30 and 40 wounded,” in addition to regular cases, Elhassan said. “Other medical personnel cannot reach us because the roads are no longer safe. We are short of personnel and materials.”

In addition to the more than 500 killed in the fighting, 250 are estimated missing, said a spokesperson for the Mafqud (Missing) online project.

Munira Edwin turned to the project when her brother Babiker disappeared on the first day of fighting. Mafqud called her back nearly two weeks later.

“He had been found dead with two bullets” in his body, she said, struggling to hold back tears.

It was also too late on Monday for the victim, whom several men transported to a hospital in Khartoum, covered with a gray sheet after a van was riddled with bullets. The back seat was soaked in blood. The luggage was lying on the roof, as if the passengers had tried to flee.

At the risk of being caught in the crossfire, some civilians still venture outside. Long queues formed on Tuesday at petrol stations offering the rare commodity, as well as at banks and ATMs.

Ahead of the South Sudanese announcement, UN mission chief Volker Perthes said talks involving Saudi and US mediators were underway with the rival generals to confirm a truce.

Burhan’s envoy, Dafaallah al-Haj, was in Cairo where he met with senior Egyptian and Arab League officials.

Haj told a news conference he hoped the Arab League, African Union, Saudi Arabia and the United States could play a role in those talks for a more lasting truce.

As diplomats try to stop the fighting, foreign governments have rushed to evacuate their citizens, thousands of whom have been brought to safety by air or sea in winding down operations.

– Exodus from Darfur –

The Russian armed forces announced on Tuesday that they were evacuating more than 200 people from Sudan on board four military transport planes.

Saudi Arabia said it had transported another 220 people to Jeddah.

Beyond Khartoum, anarchy has engulfed the Darfur region from where more than 70% of the 330,000 people displaced inside Sudan by the fighting have fled, according to the International Organization for Migration.

Darfur is still scarred by a war that erupted in 2003 when then-strongman Omar al-Bashir unleashed the Janjawid militia, mainly recruited from Arab pastoral tribes, against ethnic minority rebels.

The Janjaweed – whose actions led to war crimes charges against Bashir and others – later evolved into the RSF.

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(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed)


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