Sudan crisis: Warring factions agree to 72-hour ceasefire

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KHARTOUM: Warring factions in Sudan have agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire on Monday after the US and Saudi Arabia mediated the truce while countries are engaged to evacuate their citizens from the country.

“Following intense negotiations, the SAF and RSF have agreed to implement and uphold a 72-hour nationwide ceasefire starting midnight, April 24. We welcome their commitment to work with partners and stakeholders for permanent cessation of hostilities and humanitarian arrangements,” tweeted US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

The Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) said the US and Saudi Arabia mediated the truce, scheduled to start at midnight local time (22:00 GMT Monday), reported Al Jazeera.

In a written statement Monday, the RSF said it had agreed to the truce “in order to open humanitarian corridors, facilitate the movement of citizens and residents, enable them to fulfill their needs, reach hospitals and safe areas, and evacuate diplomatic missions.”

Previously agreed ceasefires have broken down, if the new three-day cessation of fighting holds, it could create an opportunity to get much-needed critical resources like food and medical supplies to those in need, reported CNN.

The ceasefire will help in the successful evacuations of foreigners. Some countries have successfully evacuated, including Spain, Jordan, Italy, France, Denmark and Germany, while the United Kingdom has evacuated embassy staff. Several of their convoys also carried citizens from other countries.

Saudi Arabia evacuated 10 Saudi nationals and 189 foreigners including Americans from Sudan, the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Twitter Monda, reported CNN.

There is immense concern about the safety of those who still remain in the country, regardless of their nationality, given the ongoing violence and its impact on critical resources like food, water and medical care.

Blinken said on Monday that the ceasefire deal followed two days of intense negotiations. Sudan’s army and the rival paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have not abided by several temporary truce deals over the past week.

“During this period, the United States urges the SAF and RSF to immediately and fully uphold the ceasefire. To support a durable end to the fighting, the United States will coordinate with regional and international partners, and Sudanese civilian stakeholders,” Blinken said in a statement.

Fighting erupted between the army and the RSF paramilitary group on April 15 and has killed at least 427 people, knocked out hospitals and other services, and turned residential areas into war zones. Millions of people remain trapped in their homes in the capital Khartoum are running short on food and water.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that the violence in a country that flanks the Red Sea, Horn of Africa and Sahel regions “risks a catastrophic conflagration … that could engulf the whole region and beyond”.

He urged the 15 members of the UN Security Council to use their clout to return Sudan to the path of democratic transition after a 2021 military coup that followed the fall of longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir in a popular uprising, reported Al Jazeera.

“We must all do everything within our power to pull Sudan back from the edge of the abyss … We stand with them at this terrible time,” Guterres said, adding that he had authorised temporary relocation of some UN personnel and families.

The Security Council has planned a meeting on Sudan on Tuesday, reported Al Jazeera.

On Monday, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar informed that India’s ‘Operation Kaveri’ to evacuate its citizens from battle-torn Sudan is underway and about 500 Indians had reached Port Sudan. India has launched “Operation Kaveri” to bring back stranded Indians from war-torn Sudan. (ANI)

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