Sudan remains embroiled in fierce fighting, causing a “humanitarian catastrophe,” but neighboring South Sudan announced on Tuesday that it has secured a “principle agreement” from the two warring generals for a one-week ceasefire. However, an AFP report reveals that fighting and gunfire can still be heard in the area. The Sudanese army and paramilitary forces agreed to a seven-day ceasefire from May 4th to May 11th in a telephone conversation with South Sudanese President Salva Kiir, according to the South Sudanese Foreign Ministry. The generals “agreed in principle to a seven-day ceasefire from May 4th to May 11th,” said the ministry in a statement, and “have agreed to appoint representatives for peace talks to be held at a venue of their choice.”
None of the previous ceasefires were respected by the warring parties, and the ongoing conflict, which began on April 15th, has already claimed over 500 lives and injured thousands, mainly in Khartoum and Darfur. The UN warns that the conflict has plunged the country, one of the poorest in the world, into a “real catastrophe.” Over 330,000 people have been displaced, and another 100,000 have fled to neighboring countries, with the UN predicting that the number of refugees will be eight times greater. Those who remain are suffering from a lack of water, electricity, and food in Khartoum, one of the world’s hottest cities.
A senior UN official in Sudan, Abdou Dieng, warned on Monday that the situation was heading towards a “full-blown catastrophe,” and Kenya’s President, William Ruto, said the conflict had reached “catastrophic levels.” Ruto added that the rival generals refused to “heed calls by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the African Union, and the international community for a ceasefire.” The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has warned that Sudan’s aid program for 2023 is only 14% funded, and $1.5 billion is needed to address the humanitarian crisis exacerbated by the fighting. Martin Griffiths, the UN’s humanitarian affairs envoy, arrived in Nairobi on Monday to find ways to send aid to the millions of civilians trapped in Sudan.
The conflict began when the army chief, General Abdel Fatah al-Burhan, and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), led by General Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, allied themselves in a coup in 2021 to sideline civilians from the government after the overthrow of dictator Omar al-Bashir. Both sides have violated several ceasefires, including a 72-hour ceasefire agreed upon on Sunday. The UN fears that “more than 800,000 people” may flee the fighting to neighboring countries. The chaos of the conflict has included hospital bombings and looting of humanitarian facilities, forcing foreign organizations to suspend most of their operations.
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