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Sudan: Temporary ceasefire reached as war enters sixth week

Seven-day humanitarian truce and ceasefire will take effect in 48 hours, sources familiar with negotiations confirm
Smoke rises above buildings after aerial bombardment, during clashes between the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces and the army in Khartoum North, Sudan, on 1 May (Reuters/File photo)

Warring forces in Sudan have agreed to a seven-day humanitarian truce and ceasefire, the United States and Saudi Arabia said in a joint statement.

The ceasefire will take effect at 9:45 p.m. Khartoum time on Monday, the two sponsors of the talks said. 

Saudi- and US-sponsored talks in the Saudi city of Jeddah have proved difficult, with the two warring sides accusing each other of violating multiple ceasefire agreements that were not honoured.

Air strikes hit outer areas of the Sudanese capital Khartoum overnight and on Saturday morning, as fighting that has trapped civilians in a humanitarian crisis and displaced more than a million entered its sixth week.

The fighting has led to a collapse in law and order that the two sides blame the other for. Stocks of food, cash and essentials are rapidly dwindling, and mass looting has hit banks, embassies, factories and aid warehouses. 

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The conflict, which began on 15 April, has displaced almost 1.1 million people internally and into neighbouring countries. Some 705 people have been killed and at least 5,287 injured, according to the World Health Organization. 

Peace through dialogue

The war broke out in Khartoum after disputes over plans for the RSF to be integrated into the army and over the future chain of command under an internationally backed deal to shift Sudan towards democracy following decades of conflict-ridden autocracy.

On Friday, army leader General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan removed RSF chief Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo as his deputy on the ruling council they led. He replaced him with former rebel leader Malik Agar.

'It's hard to convey the extent of the suffering occurring right now in Sudan'

- Samantha Power, USAID Administrator

In a statement on Saturday, Agar said he had accepted the position to help secure peace and support for the upcoming agricultural season, whose failure would spell widespread hunger.

He said his message to the army was, "There is no alternative to peace but peace, and no way to peace other than dialogue." 

"My message to the RSF is that there is no way for stability except with one united army," he added.

On Saturday, the US State Department said Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to Burhan about ongoing talks in Saudi Arabia aimed at reaching a ceasefire. "In this step-by-step process, the Secretary urged flexibility and leadership," spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a statement. 

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) announced late on Friday more than $100m in aid to Sudan and countries receiving fleeing Sudanese, including much-needed food and medical assistance.

"It's hard to convey the extent of the suffering occurring right now in Sudan," said agency head Samantha Power.

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