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Sudan’s Rival Factions Agree to Extend Shaky Ceasefire After Rebuke From Mediators

The US and Saudi Arabia have called out both sides for specific breaches to the previous week-long ceasefire

Sudan’s warring sides have agreed to extend a shaky ceasefire in their battle for control of the country, after the two key international mediators signalled impatience with persistent truce violations.

The five-day extension of the ceasefire between Sudan’s military and its rival, the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, was announced in a joint statement late Monday by Saudi Arabia and the United States.

“The extension will provide time for further humanitarian assistance, restoration of essential services, and discussion of a potential longer-term extension,” the statement said.

The development came after both Riyadh and Washington on Sunday called out both warring sides for specific breaches of a week-long truce that was due to expire Monday evening.

Sudan descended into chaos after fighting erupted in mid-April between the military, led by army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and the RSF, commanded his former deputy Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo. The fighting has killed at least 866 civilians and wounded thousands more, according to the Sudan Doctors’ Syndicate, which tracks civilian casualties. The toll could be much higher, the medical group said.

The conflict has turned the capital, Khartoum, and other urban areas into battlefields, forcing nearly 1.4 million people to flee their homes to safer areas inside Sudan or in neighbouring countries.

For weeks, the United States and Saudi Arabia have been mediating talks between the military and the RSF in the Saudi port city of Jeddah. So far, there have been seven declared ceasefires, all of which have been violated to some extent.

In Sunday’s statement, the US and Saudi Arabia noted that the military continued to carry out airstrikes, while the RSF was still occupying people’s homes and seizing properties. Fuel, money, aid supplies and vehicles belonging to a humanitarian convoy were stolen, with theft occurring both in areas controlled by the military and by the RSF, the statement said.

Alan Boswell from the International Crisis Group thinktank said the joint statement was meant to pressure both sides into greater compliance.

“There is still no clear path to a successful ceasefire,” said Boswell, who is project director for the Horn of Africa at the Crisis Group. “It’s becoming clearer by the day that mediators can’t afford to wait for a stable ceasefire to kickstart the wider political process.”

The war has inflicted widespread destruction in residential areas in Khartoum and its adjacent cities of Omdurman and Bahri. Residents reported storming and looting of their homes, mostly by the paramilitary troops.

Aid groups’ offices, healthcare facilities and other civilian infrastructure have also been attacked and looted. Many hospitals have become inaccessible since fighting began on 15 April.

There have been reports of sexual violence including rape of woman and girls in Khartoum and the western Darfur region, which have seen some of the worst fighting in the conflict. Almost all reported cases of sexual attacks were blamed on the RSF, which didn’t respond to repeated requests for comment.

Doctors and activists have also faced violence from both sides of the war. The whereabouts of Dr. Alaa Eldin Awad Nogoud, a prominent surgeon and pro-democracy activist, remained unknown on Monday, two days after armed people from the military and the intelligence service took him from his home in Khartoum.

Source: The Guardian