After weeks of intense fighting between warring factions in Sudan, a temporary ceasefire has been reached, raising hopes for a period of respite in the conflict.
Previous attempts at truces between Sudan’s regular army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have faltered almost immediately. However, this new agreement will be overseen by a “ceasefire monitoring mechanism” with support from the United States and Saudi Arabia.
The humanitarian ceasefire, lasting seven days, includes provisions for the restoration of essential services by Sudanese officials. The ongoing violence has plunged the nation into chaos, displacing over a million people.
Qatar recently reported that its embassy in Khartoum, the capital, was vandalized by “irregular armed forces.” The country has demanded accountability for this “heinous act.” Other embassies, including Jordan’s, have also faced similar attacks, along with aid warehouses of the United Nations.
The depletion of food, money, and vital resources has accelerated, with aid organizations struggling to provide sufficient assistance in Khartoum, where much of the violence has occurred.
The United States and Saudi Arabia, who facilitated peace talks in Jeddah, announced that the ceasefire would come into effect on Monday evening.
The US State Department recognized the past failures of ceasefires in Sudan but highlighted a crucial difference this time. “Unlike previous agreements, the Jeddah agreement was signed by both parties and will be supported by a US-Saudi and internationally backed ceasefire monitoring mechanism,” the statement read, although specifics were not provided.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged both sides to honor the agreement, emphasizing the international community’s watchful eyes and the pressing need to allow unimpeded humanitarian access.
The conflict erupted in Khartoum on April 15, following heightened tensions when members of the RSF were redeployed across the country, raising concerns within the regular army. A power struggle between Sudan’s army chief, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and his former deputy, Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, who leads the RSF, further exacerbated the situation.
Hundreds of lives have been lost in the fighting, and the United Nations has warned of a deteriorating humanitarian crisis in Africa’s third-largest country, where a significant portion of the population was already reliant on aid prior to the conflict.
While both sides signed a commitment on May 11 to facilitate humanitarian assistance in Sudan, UN aid chief Martin Griffiths recently noted “important and egregious” violations of that agreement, which fell short of a comprehensive ceasefire.
Reports of violence continue to emerge from various parts of the country, with eyewitnesses reporting airstrikes on Saturday in southern Omdurman and northern Bahri, both located across the Nile from Khartoum.
Residents of Omdurman described their houses shaking from heavy artillery fire, recounting the terrifying experience of seeking shelter under their beds. The situation remains nightmarish for those directly impacted by the conflict, underscoring the urgency of reaching a lasting peace.