Sudan’s warring factions have agreed to extend a ceasefire truce for a further five days, as the initial imperfect agreement, nevertheless, enabled aid to be brought into the country.
In a joint statement yesterday by the United States and Saudi Arabia, the two main mediators in the conflict, the week-long ceasefire, which initially began on Monday last week, has now been extended by five days.
It came after significant pressure from both Washington and Riyadh, as well as humanitarian and aid organisations, to ensure the extension of the initial truce. Despite numerous repeated breaches of the ceasefire by both sides and the continuation of fighting and strikes, it had still served in enabling the delivery of aid to millions of civilians stuck in the conflict zones.
According to the statement, the five-day extension “will provide time for further humanitarian assistance, restoration of essential services and discussion of a potential longer-term extension”.
This was confirmed by the United Nation’s World Food Programme (WFP), which said that it had begun making its first food deliveries on Saturday within the capital, Khartoum, the first since the eruption of the conflict on 15 April.
The Sudanese Army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have been battling for control of the country over the past month and a half, following a disagreement regarding the integration of the RSF into the military.
In a previous joint statement over the weekend, the US and Saudi Arabia said that “five days after the entry into force of a short-term ceasefire, there were violations by both parties that significantly impeded delivery of humanitarian assistance and restoration of essential services”.
The two acknowledged that “Both sides undertook attacks and moved troops, weapons and other resources”, and stressed that they “urged both parties to agree to an extension of the current ceasefire, however imperfectly observed, to provide more time for humanitarian actors to undertake that vital work.”
Since the start of the fighting, according to the Sudan Doctors’ Syndicate, at least 866 civilians have been killed in the fighting and thousands more have been wounded, with the toll potentially being much higher.
Around 1.4 million people in Sudan have also been forced to flee their homes for other areas within the country or in neighbouring countries, with foreign diplomatic missions also having been evacuated.