Foreigners evacuated as factions in Sudan consent to a 72-hour ceasefire

Spanish military plane and military vehicles are seen departing on tarmac as Spanish diplomatic personnel and citizens are evacuated, in Khartoum, Sudan, April 23. Spanish Defence Ministry via REUTERS

Tuesday marked the beginning of a 72-hour armistice between the warring factions of Sudan, while Western, Arab, and Asian nations rushed to evacuate their citizens.

The Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) reported that the U.S. and Saudi Arabia mediated the ceasefire. The agreement was first announced by U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, who said it resulted from two days of intensive negotiations. Both parties have violated several previous temporary cease-fires.

On April 15, fighting broke out between the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary group Rapid Support Forces (RSF), resulting in the deaths of at least 427 people, the destruction of hospitals and other services, and the transformation of residential areas into war zones.

Blinken said, "During this period, the United States urges the SAF and RSF to immediately and completely uphold the ceasefire."

He stated that the U.S. would collaborate with regional, international, and Sudanese civil interests to establish a committee to supervise the work on a permanent cease-fire and humanitarian arrangements.

The RSF verified in Khartoum that it had agreed to a ceasefire beginning at midnight to facilitate humanitarian efforts. The RSF reaffirmed its commitment to a total cessation of hostilities during the truce period.

The SAF stated on its Facebook page that it, too, was in agreement with the ceasefire. The news was greeted by a coalition of Sudanese civil society organizations participating in negotiations regarding the transition to democracy.

Before the evening truce announcement, air strikes and ground combat shook Omdurman, one of three adjacent cities in the capital region. There were clashes in the capital Khartoum, according to a Reuters reporter.

Smoke filled the atmosphere near the international airport in central Khartoum, adjacent to the army headquarters, while artillery fire shook the area.

The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, stated that the violence in a country bordering the Red Sea, Horn of Africa, and Sahel regions "risks a cataclysmic conflagration... that could engulf the entire region and beyond."

Tuesday was slated for a Security Council meeting in Sudan.

Thousands Flee

In the past few days, tens of thousands of people, including Sudanese and citizens of neighboring countries, have escaped to Egypt, Chad, and South Sudan, despite Sudan's instability and harsh living conditions.

The efforts of foreign administrations to bring their citizens to safety are ongoing. A 65-vehicle convoy transported dozens of children and hundreds of diplomats and humanitarian workers on an 800-kilometer (500-mile), 35-hour journey from Khartoum to Port Sudan on the Red Sea in the sweltering heat.

The situation grew increasingly dire for those remaining in Africa's third-largest country, where a third of its 46 million people required aid even before the violence.

Farhan Haq, the deputy spokesperson for the United Nations, stated that there were severe shortages of food, potable water, medicines, and fuel, as well as limited communications and electricity, accompanied by soaring prices.

He cited reports of the theft of humanitarian supplies. He stated that "intense fighting" in Khartoum, Northern, Blue Nile, North Kordofan, and Darfur impeded relief efforts.

Aid organizations withdrew personnel in response to attacks, and the World Food Programme halted one of its most extensive food distribution missions.

The country is on the verge of disintegration due to the swift evacuation of Westerners. Suleiman Awad, a 43-year-old academic from Omdurman, stated, "We expect them to play a larger role in promoting stability by putting pressure on both sides to end the war."

Several countries, including the United States, Canada, France, Poland, and Switzerland, have temporarily suspended embassy operations.

The fighting subsided sufficiently over the weekend for the United States and the United Kingdom to evacuate their embassy staff, prompting a mass exodus of hundreds of foreign nationals from countries ranging from Gulf Arab states to Russia, Japan, and South Korea.

According to Japan, all its citizens who desired to flee Sudan have been evacuated. Paris reported that it had arranged to evacuate 491 persons, including 196 French nationals and individuals of 36 other nationalities. A French warship was en route to Port Sudan to rescue more evacuees.

On Monday, four German air force aircraft had evacuated over 400 people of various nationalities from Sudan. The Saudi foreign ministry reported evacuating 356 people, including 101 Saudis and people of 26 other nationalities.

From Djibouti, a number of nations dispatched military aircraft. Photographs revealed that families with children were packed into Spanish and French military transport aircraft while a group of nuns was among the evacuees aboard an Italian aircraft.

The secretary general of the United Nations urged the fifteen members of the Security Council to employ their influence to return Sudan to the path of democratic transition.

In 2019, the Islamist autocrat Omar al-Bashir was deposed by a popular insurrection, and in 2021, the army and RSF carried out a military coup in concert. However, they fell out during negotiations to integrate and establish a civilian government two years later.

Publish : 2023-04-25 11:27:00

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