Juba reports warring factions have agreed to a seven-day truce in Sudan

Drone footage shows birds in the foreground as clouds of black smoke billow over Bahri, also known as Khartoum North, Sudan, in this May 1, 2023 video. (Photo: Screenshot from viedo obtained by REUTERS)

The two factions fighting for supremacy in Sudan have consented to a seven-day ceasefire beginning on May 4, according to a statement released Tuesday by the foreign ministry of South Sudan in Juba.

The ministry reported that South Sudanese President Salva Kiir mediated the agreement via telephone. It follows weeks of combat that left hundreds dead and thousands wounded, despite a series of truces and cease-fires that were only partially observed.

The statement indicated that both parties had agreed to "name their representatives to peace talks to be held at any location of their choosing."

As part of a regional initiative, Kiir held discussions with Burhan and Daglo. Juba stated that he had emphasized the need for a prolonged ceasefire and the designation of envoys.

Tuesday, despite a second extension of the 72-hour cease-fire, witnesses in Khartoum reported air strikes, gunfire, and explosions.

The power struggle between Sudan's de facto leader, army chief Abdel Fattah Burhan, and his erstwhile deputy, Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, who commands the mighty Rapid Support Forces (RSF), is well into its third week.

Refugees pour across borders

As fighting between the country's top military generals persists, the United Nations has warned of an influx of refugees fleeing into Sudan's neighboring countries.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi stated late Monday that the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) was preparing, along with governments and partners, "for the possibility that more than 800,000 people may flee the fighting in Sudan for neighboring countries."

"We hope it doesn't come to that, but if the violence continues, more people will be forced to flee Sudan for safety," tweeted Grandi.

According to the UNHCR, 100,000 refugees fled from Sudan to adjacent countries.

The violence has resulted in over 500 deaths and thousands of injuries. Since April 15, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) of the United Nations, an estimated 334,000 individuals have been internally displaced.

"About 72%, or roughly 240,000, of these new internal displacements, were reported in West and South Darfur alone," spokesman Paul Dillon told reporters.

Risk 'moderate' after lab seized in fighting — WHO

After conducting a risk assessment, the World Health Organization (WHO) concluded that there was a "moderate risk" associated with the seizure of a public health laboratory in Khartoum by one of the belligerent factions.

At a press briefing in Geneva, WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic told reporters, "The situation and risk are viewed as moderate."

"This is because the lab cannot perform its primary function, which is to provide analysis and diagnostics, due to a lack of fuel and trained personnel."

The World Health Organization issued a warning last week that residents of Khartoum may be at risk due to the capture of a facility containing various pathogens.

The UN body did not specify which combatants occupied the laboratory containing cholera bacteria and other hazardous materials.

Pakistan completes evacuations from Sudan

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan reported that more than 1,000 Pakistanis had safely evacuated from Sudan.

"We have successfully and safely evacuated over one thousand Pakistanis from Sudan," the statement read.

"With this, our evacuation operations from Sudan have concluded," it stated, adding that all Pakistanis who wished to leave had been evacuated.

AFP quoted a foreign ministry official saying that the final group of Pakistani nationals had been transported to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, by boat.

Russia evacuates more than 200 people from Sudan

Tuesday, the Russian Defense Ministry announced that it was evacuating over 200 persons from Sudan.

"Four Il-76 aircraft... of the Russian Aerospace Forces are bringing more than 200 people from the Republic of Sudan to the Russian Federation," the ministry announced via the Telegram messaging app. 

It was added that the evacuees were citizens of Russia and adjacent countries.

Nearly 500 evacuated to Saudi Arabia by sea

Saudi Arabia announced late Monday that it was evacuating 212 people from Sudan via the Red Sea, including Americans and Britons.

According to the Saudi Foreign Ministry, the most recent evacuation mission comprised 41 Saudis and 171 foreigners. 

Citizens of Afghanistan, the Philippines, the Comoro Islands, Sri Lanka, Ukraine, Madagascar, Syria, the United Kingdom, and the United States were among the latter group.

According to the ministry, the ship that sailed on Monday increased the number of people evacuated by Saudi Arabia since the conflict began to 5,409. Among them are 225 Saudi nationals.

A US-operated rescue ship transporting 300 civilians fleeing Sudan arrived in Saudi Arabia on Monday morning. According to officials cited by the French news agency AFP, the ship was carrying 105 Americans, 100 Sudanese, and citizens of 15 other nations.

Analyst sees little hope for Sudan peace process

Jon Temin, vice president of policy and programs at the Truman National Security Project in Washington, DC, stated that the likelihood of Sudan's warring generals discontinuing hostilities and engaging in a meaningful peace process is low.

Temin, a former Director of the Africa Program at Freedom House, told DW on Monday that Burhan and Daglo will likely continue fighting until one party prevails.

"Both of these generals and the commanded forces are acclimated to combat. They are habituated to obtaining their goals through conflict. And it is now extremely difficult to imagine how they coexist. It was difficult to imagine how they could coexist even before the violence began."

Temin also expressed skepticism regarding the viability of reaching an agreement that would satisfy both parties, but he stated that there was promise in "negotiations with strong leadership from the region" alongside the United States and other world powers.

In addition, he ruled out the possibility of foreign military intervention, stating that he could only envision it occurring in "extremely rare circumstances."

Publish : 2023-05-03 10:20:00

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