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Fighting escalates in Sudan ahead of ceasefire

The parties to the Sudan conflict, despite signing a ceasefire set to go into effect tonight, are still fighting and rocking the country’s capital.

  • Smoke is seen in Khartoum, Sudan, April 19, 2023 (AP)

The Sudanese capital of Khartoum was hit Monday by loud gunfire and explosions that swept throughout the city ahead of a week-long humanitarian ceasefire set to take effect at night time.

The country has had numerous attempts at a ceasefire, but they all faltered after they were violated by either side of the raging conflict.

The United States and Saudi Arabia announced Sunday that a ceasefire was set to take place between the two rivals, the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) at 21:45 (19:45 GMT) Monday to enable humanitarian aid to reach civilians.

Reportedly, this truce is different, as Washington and Riyadh claimed that it was “signed by the parties” and would be supported by a “ceasefire monitoring mechanism.”

Both parties claimed that they would respect the ceasefire that was hailed by the United Nations, the African Union, and IGAD.

A text of the agreement released by the United States said the two sides were to use the two days leading up to the ceasefire to “inform their respective forces” about it and “instruct them to comply”.

According to the statement, the new deal would be implemented by a US-Saudi and international monitoring body.

Future talks “will focus on additional steps necessary to improve security and humanitarian conditions for civilians such as vacating forces from urban centers, including civilian homes, accelerating removal of impediments to the free movement of civilians and humanitarian actors, and enabling public servants to resume their regular duties.”

However, despite the instructions, Khartoum woke up on its 37th day to the sound of air strikes and gunfire.

“Fighting and troop movements have continued even today, despite a commitment by both sides not to pursue military advantage before the ceasefire takes effect,” UN envoy to Sudan Volker Perthes told the Security Council.

More than one million have been displaced, including more than 250,000 who have fled Sudan across borders, creating regional fallout.

Sudan’s Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC), a coalition of political groups backing the democratic government in the nation, praised the truce agreement on Saturday.

In a statement, the FFC expressed that it calls for “a full commitment to Jeddah ‘Declaration of Principles’ and to the short-term ceasefire agreement as well as humanitarian arrangements.”

Dangerous humanitarian crisis

The United Nations official for humanitarian affairs, Martin Griffiths, announced Friday the allocation of $22 million from a United Nations emergency fund to help the Sudanese people who had fled to bordering nations.

Similarly, the United States also announced $103 million in aid to Sudan and neighboring countries to face the humanitarian crisis.

Only one month in, around 1,000 people have been killed, mainly in and around Khartoum, as well as in the long-troubled western region of Darfur.

The UN highlighted on Wednesday that half of Sudan’s population needs humanitarian aid and that more than $3 billion will be needed this year alone to provide urgent assistance inside the country and to those fleeing across its borders.

Fighting has been condensed in Khartoum but other areas, most notably the western Darfur region bordering Chad, have also seen heavy fighting.

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk, on Thursday, called on the international community to exert all possible pressure on the fighting sides in Sudan to resolve the conflict and end “the wanton violence.”

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