Sudan factions reach 72-hour ceasefire agreement and evacuate civilians
The United States has brokered a 72-hour ceasefire in Sudan to aid the evacuation of foreign nationals from areas of conflict, as the humanitarian crisis worsens and casualties increase.
As soon as the warring factions in Sudan agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire, foreign countries moved quickly to evacuate their citizens from the country. (Image Source – AFP)
Following 10 days of urban warfare in Khartoum and other areas that has claimed the lives of over 400 people and led to a mass exodus of foreign nationals, Sudan’s warring generals have agreed to a three-day ceasefire.
As foreign governments continue to evacuate their citizens and diplomats from the country, the Sudanese people are also searching for ways to escape the violence.
There are growing concerns that the power struggle between army chief Abdel-Fattah Burhan and Rapid Support Forces (RSF) leader Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, also known as “Hemedti”, could escalate into a full-blown civil war.
Egyptian expert on Africa, Amani el-Taweel, has cautioned that those unable to leave Sudan face the possibility of “horrific suffering”. Speaking to the Associated Press, el-Taweel warned that after the completion of evacuations, the warring factions are unlikely to respond to calls for a truce or ceasefire.
LATEST DEVELOPMENTS IN SUDAN VIOLENCE
1. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced on Monday that after previous attempts to halt the conflict had failed, the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and Rapid Support Forces (RSF) had finally agreed to a nationwide ceasefire. The ceasefire would commence at midnight on April 24 and last for a duration of 72 hours. Blinken stated that the ceasefire was the result of “intense negotiation” over the preceding 48 hours.
The Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have confirmed that they will observe the ceasefire, which began at midnight, in order to facilitate humanitarian efforts in the region. The Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) also announced their agreement to the truce deal via their Facebook page.
2. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had recently cautioned that the violence in Sudan could lead to a catastrophic regional conflict that could have a domino effect. The warning was made as the country borders the Red Sea, Horn of Africa, and Sahel regions.
Guterres implored the 15 members of the Security Council to intervene and use their power to encourage a return to democratic processes in Sudan. The announcement of the ceasefire followed shortly after his plea.
3. Since the foreign-organised evacuations began on Saturday, more than 4,000 people have fled Sudan. On Sunday, US special forces carried out a rescue mission using Chinook helicopters to extract diplomats and their dependents. Britain launched a similar mission, while EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell confirmed that over 1,000 EU citizens were airlifted out of the country during a “long and intense weekend” that involved rescue missions by France, Germany, and other countries.
In addition to these evacuations, groups of nationals from various countries, including South Korea, Palestine, Kenya, Saudi Arabia, and Japan, have made a 13-hour drive from Khartoum to Port Sudan to be picked up by their respective countries’ aircraft.
4. As the ceasefire went into effect, Khartoum was still reeling from heavy gunfire and explosions that had been ongoing for hours. The conflict has been between the army and the rival paramilitary group, RSF. Airstrikes pounded the Kalakla district, which is located near the Nile river, for an hour, destroying the area completely, according to Atiya Abdulla Atiya, the secretary of the Doctors’ Syndicate.
(Image Source – AFP)
The Sudanese people are struggling to survive amidst acute shortages of basic necessities, including water, food, medicine, and fuel. Power and internet blackouts have only exacerbated the crisis.
5. Since the start of the conflict on April 15, more than 420 people have lost their lives, with at least 273 of them being civilians. In addition, over 3,700 people have been injured.
The Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), under the leadership of Burhan, have had the upper hand in the fighting in Khartoum, but the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), led by Hemedti, still control many areas of the capital, as well as the nearby city of Omdurman. The RSF also has several large strongholds throughout the country.