The Sudanese army, late Friday (May 5), said that it sent envoys to Saudi Arabia to discuss “details of the truce in the process of being extended” with its rival paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), as quoted by news agency AFP. This comes after multiple ceasefires have been agreed on since the fighting began, last month, all of which were broken quickly.
Sudanese army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan had previously backed a seven-day ceasefire announced by South Sudan on Wednesday, but early on Friday, the paramilitary RSF said they were extending by three days a previous truce brokered under the United States-Saudi mediation.
The announcement by the Sudanese Army was later confirmed by the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken who in a statement wrote, “The US and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia welcome the start of pre-negotiation talks between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in Jeddah.”
He added, “I thank KSA for hosting. We urge the parties to engage in these talks seriously as a path toward ending the conflict.”
In a joint statement, the US and Saudi governments confirmed direct talks between the warring sides which would begin in Jeddah on Saturday and said, “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United States urge both parties to take in consideration the interests of the Sudanese nation and its people and actively engage in the talks toward a ceasefire and end to the conflict.”
However, it is unclear whether the warring forces would abide by the truce as similar ceasefire announcements have failed to yield any results in the past. As this also comes days after, South Sudan’s foreign ministry, in a statement, said that both sides would send representatives for peace talks “to be held at an agreed venue of their choice”, reports CNN.
According to reports, air strikes and gunfire rocked the Sudanese capital of Khartoum, on Friday with no signs of slowing down from either side. The fighting between the Sudanese army’s chief and RSF chief, Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, is entering its third week.
So far, 700 people have been killed, most of them in Khartoum and the western Darfur region, said news agency AFP, citing data from Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project.
UN’s warning about food insecurity in Sudan
The United Nations has reiterated its warning about the ongoing conflict affecting the people in Sudan and said hunger and malnutrition could affect as many as 19 million people in the coming months, said a spokesman for the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres citing data from the World Food Program.
According to estimates by the WFP, “the number of acutely food insecure people in Sudan will increase by between two and 2.5 million people. That raises the number to a total of 19 million people in the next three to six months if the current conflict continues,” said Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for the UN chief.
More than one million polio vaccines destroyed: UNICEF
Hazel De Wet, deputy director of the Office of Emergency Programmes, UNICEF told Reuters, on Friday, in an email that more than one million polio vaccines intended for children have been destroyed as a result of looting in Sudan.
“A number of cold chain facilities have been looted, damaged and destroyed, including over a million polio vaccines in South Darfur,” wrote De Wet, as quoted by Reuters.
Separately, UNICEF also warned that “the situation in Sudan has become fatal for a frighteningly large number of children”. James Elder, spokesperson for the agency, citing data which was not yet independently verified by the UN said, 190 children were killed and 1,700 wounded during the first 11 days of the conflict.
Human rights council to hold special session
The UN Human Rights Council, also announced that it would hold a special session on conflict-torn Sudan on May 11, “to address the human rights impact of the ongoing conflict”. The gathering is set to take place in Geneva following a request submitted Friday by the United Kingdom, Germany, Norway and the United States, which 52 countries have so far supported.
(With inputs from agencies)