Sudan’s warring factions agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire beginning Tuesday, while Western, Arab, and Asian nations rushed to evacuate their residents.
According to the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF), the truce was mediated by the United States and Saudi Arabia. The accord was first reported by US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, who said it came after two days of rigorous negotiations. Several past temporary truce agreements have been violated by both parties.
Fighting erupted on April 15 between the SAF and the paramilitary group Rapid Support Forces (RSF), killing at least 427 people, knocking out hospitals and other facilities, and turning civilian areas into war zones.
“During this period, the United States urges the SAF and RSF to immediately and fully uphold the ceasefire,” Blinken said in a statement.
He stated that the United States will cooperate with regional, international, and Sudanese civilian interests to form a committee to monitor progress on a durable ceasefire and humanitarian solutions.
In Khartoum, the RSF stated that it has agreed to a truce beginning at midnight to allow humanitarian efforts. “We reiterate our commitment to a total ceasefire during the truce period,” the RSF stated.
The SAF confirmed the truce agreement on its Facebook page. A coalition of Sudanese civil society groups involved in the transition to democracy welcomed the news.
Prior to the nighttime peace announcement, air strikes and ground combat rattled Omdurman, one of three capital area cities, and there were also confrontations in Khartoum, according to a Reuters correspondent.
Dark smoke engulfed the sky near the international airport in central Khartoum, adjacent to army headquarters, and artillery fire shook the surrounding area.
According to United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the violence in a country that borders the Red Sea, Horn of Africa, and Sahel areas “risks a catastrophic conflagration… that could engulf the entire region and beyond.”
On Tuesday, the Security Council will hold a meeting to discuss Sudan.
THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE FLEE
Tens of thousands of people, both Sudanese and nationals from neighboring countries, have fled to Egypt, Chad, and South Sudan in recent days, despite insecurity and tough living conditions.
Foreign governments have been working hard to get their citizens to safety. A 65-vehicle convoy transported dozens of children, as well as hundreds of diplomats and charity workers, on an 800-kilometer (500-mile) journey in sweltering heat from Khartoum to Port Sudan on the Red Sea.
The situation in Africa’s third-largest country, where a third of its 46 million people needed aid even before the conflict, was becoming increasingly dire for those who remained.
Food, clean water, medicines, and fuel were in low supply, and communications and energy were constrained, with prices rising, said deputy UN spokesperson Farhan Haq.
He noted allegations of humanitarian supplies being looted and stated “intense fighting” in Khartoum, as well as Northern, Blue Nile, North Kordofan, and Darfur states, was impeding relief efforts.
Aid organizations were among those removing personnel in response to the attacks, and the World Food Programme ceased its food delivery mission, one of the largest in the world.
“The rapid evacuation of Westerners indicates that the country is on the verge of collapsing.” But we expect them to play a bigger role in promoting stability by putting pressure on both sides to end the war,” said Suleiman Awad, a 43-year-old Omdurman academic.
Several countries, including Canada, France, Poland, Switzerland, and the United States, have shut down their embassies until further notice.
Over the weekend, the fighting subsided enough for the united governments and Britain to evacuate diplomatic personnel, sparking a surge of evacuations of hundreds of foreign people by countries ranging from Gulf Arab governments to Russia, Japan, and South Korea.
According to Japan, all of its people who wanted to leave Sudan had been evacuated. Paris said it had arranged for 491 people to be evacuated, including 196 French citizens and people from 36 other countries. A French warship was its route to Port Sudan to pick up other evacuees.
As of Monday, four German air force jets had evacuated more than 400 people of various nationalities from Sudan, while the Saudi foreign ministry reported it had evacuated 356 people, including 101 Saudis and nationals from 26 other countries.
Several countries dispatched military aircraft from Djibouti. Photographs showed families with children cramming into Spanish and French military transport planes, while a group of nuns was among the evacuees on an Italian plane.
The United Nations secretary-general asked the Security Council’s 15 members to use their influence to return Sudan to the road of democratic transition.
Islamist tyrant Omar al-Bashir was deposed in a public movement in 2019, and the army and RSF collaborated in a military revolution in 2021. However, they fell out amid negotiations to integrate and form a civilian administration two years later.