The warring parties in Sudan have agreed to a three-day ceasefire, as many countries are racing to evacuate civilians from the violence-hit north African country.
“Following intense negotiation over the past 48 hours, the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have agreed to implement a nationwide ceasefire starting at midnight on April 24, to last for 72 hours,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a written statement on Tuesday morning.
Previous attempted ceasefires have failed as the brutal fighting, which first erupted on April 15, has killed at least 427 people and injured more than 3,700, according to UN agencies.
Since the violence began, residents of the battle-scarred capital Khartoum have been told to stay inside, and food and water supplies have been running low.
The bombing has hit key infrastructure, like water pipes, meaning that some people have been forced to drink from the River Nile.
Hours before Blinken’s announcement, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that the violence “risks a catastrophic conflagration within Sudan that could engulf the whole region and beyond” and called on UN Security Council members to exert maximum leverage.
In a written statement on 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 fulfil their needs, reach hospitals and safe areas, and evacuate diplomatic missions”.
Over the weekend, several countries have evacuated their diplomats and citizens as fighting raged in densely populated parts of the capital.
It is estimated that tens of thousands of people, including Sudanese citizens and those from neighbouring countries, have fled because of the unrest.
Brief lulls in the conflict have allowed foreign civilians to flee Sudan to safety.
The current three-day ceasefire, if it endures, might generate a chance to deliver essential resources such as food and medical supplies to those in need.
Since a 2021 coup, Sudan has been run by a council of generals, led by the two military men at the centre of this dispute — Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the head of the SAF and in effect the country’s president, and his deputy and leader of the RSF, Gen Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, better known as Hemedti, the BBC reported.
They have disagreed on the direction the country is going in and the proposed move towards civilian rule.
The main sticking points are plans to include the 100,000-strong RSF into the army, and who would then lead the new force.
Gen Dagalo has accused Gen Burhan’s government of being “radical Islamists” and that he and the RSF were “fighting for the people of Sudan to ensure the democratic progress for which they have so long yearned”.
Meanwhile, Gen Burhan has said he supports the idea of returning to civilian rule, but that he will only hand over power to an elected government.