Blinken Announces 72-Hour Ceasefire in Sudan

Blinken Announces 72-Hour Ceasefire in Sudan
Smoke is seen in Khartoum, Sudan, on April 22, 2023. (The Canadian Press/AP, Marwan Ali)
Katabella Roberts

The ongoing violent conflict in Sudan between the army and a paramilitary group will be paused temporarily after both sides agreed to a three-day ceasefire, the U.S. State Department said on April 24.

The nationwide ceasefire between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and Rapid Support Forces (RSF) will begin at midnight local time and follows “intense negotiations over the past 48 hours,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

“During this period, the United States urges the SAF and RSF to immediately and fully uphold the ceasefire,” Blinken said.

While previous attempts at a temporary ceasefire between the two rival groups have failed, officials hope the latest pause to the fighting will serve as the basis for negotiations regarding a permanent end to the conflict, which has killed hundreds of people and left thousands of foreigners stranded in the country.

“To support a durable end to the fighting, the United States will coordinate with regional and international partners, and Sudanese civilian stakeholders, to assist in the creation of a committee to oversee the negotiation, conclusion, and implementation of a permanent cessation of hostilities and humanitarian arrangements in Sudan,” Blinken said.

“We will continue to work with the Sudanese parties and our partners toward the shared goal of a return to civilian government in Sudan,” he added.

In a statement on Twitter translated by local media, the RSF confirmed that it agreed to hold the 72-hour truce following negations meditated by the United States, adding that the pause in fighting will allow humanitarian corridors to be opened and grant citizens and residents a chance to reach hospitals and safe areas.

The pause will also allow for the evacuation of foreign diplomats and aid workers, among other individuals, RSF said.

Children carry a bucket of water during clashes between the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces and the army in Khartoum North, Sudan, on April 22, 2023. (Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Reuters)
Children carry a bucket of water during clashes between the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces and the army in Khartoum North, Sudan, on April 22, 2023. (Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Reuters)

Death Toll Rising

“The Rapid Support Forces affirm their full readiness to cooperate, coordinate and provide all facilities that enable expatriates and missions to leave the country safely,” the statement read, adding that it stands by the Sudanese people and strives “to achieve their legitimate aspirations for freedom, justice, democracy, and the rule of law.”

“We affirm our commitment during the period of the declared armistice to the complete ceasefire, and we warn against the continued violations of the second party in non-compliance with the armistice,” RSF said.

The Sudanese military has not publicly commented on the ceasefire.

Monday’s ceasefire follows intensive fighting throughout the capital city of Khartoum and other areas of the country that has killed more than 400 people, including children, and injured 3,551 more, according to the World Health Organization.

Health officials have warned that critical life-saving care for an estimated 50,000 severely acutely malnourished children has been disrupted by the fighting in the country, which already has some of the highest malnutrition rates among children in the world.

Meanwhile, the fighting, which broke out over a week ago, has also prompted multiple countries, including the United States, to evacuate their diplomatic staff and shut down their embassies.

Both the army, headed by Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, and RSF, headed by Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, jointly staged a military coup in October 2021 to overthrow the government but subsequently fell out during negotiations to integrate the two groups and restore civilian rule.

Their ongoing rivalry has raised concerns that the conflict could spill over into neighboring countries such as Chad, where many Sudanese have sought refuge.

Reuters contributed to this report. 
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