After ten days of urban fighting that claimed hundreds of lives, injured thousands, and caused a large-scale evacuation of foreigners, a 72-hour ceasefire between Sudan’s warring generals went into force on Tuesday.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated in a statement just before the cease-fire went into effect at midnight (2200 GMT Monday) that the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) agreed to the cease-fire “following intense negotiations”.
Previous attempts to cease the fighting fell short, but the three-day truce was acknowledged by both parties.
“This ceasefire aims to establish humanitarian corridors, allowing citizens and residents to access essential resources, healthcare, and safe zones, while also evacuating diplomatic missions,” the RSF paramilitary tweeted.
The SAF declared on Facebook that it would uphold the truce only if its adversaries did the same.
Sudan was on “the edge of an abyss,” according to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, and the bloodshed “could engulf the entire region and beyond.”
Armed forces loyal to army leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and those of his former deputy Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, who is in charge of the RSF, have been engaged in combat.
Former president Omar al-Bashir unleashed the Janjaweed militia in Darfur, which gave rise to the RSF and the war crimes accusations leveled against Bashir and others.
The main civilian coalition that the two generals overthrew in a coup in 2021, the Forces of Freedom and Change, claimed the truce would allow for “discussion on the modalities of a permanent ceasefire.
According to UN organizations, at least 427 people have died and more than 3,700 have been injured.
According to Egypt’s foreign ministry, the assistant administrative attache at Cairo’s embassy in Khartoum was one of the most recent victims.
According to the report, the diplomat was slain as he traveled from his residence to the embassy to monitor the evacuation process.
Over 4,000 people have left the nation in evacuations that were organized by foreign governments and started on Saturday.
Emergency missions were launched by the United States, European, Middle Eastern, African, and Asian governments to transport their embassy staff and nationals living in Sudan to safety by land, air, and sea.
However, due to the history of military coups in the country, millions of Sudanese are unable to leave.
They are trying to survive acute shortages of water, food, medicine and fuel as well as power and internet blackouts.
UN agencies reported some Sudanese civilians were able to escape “to Chad, Egypt and South Sudan”.
“We must all do everything within our power to pull Sudan back from the edge of the abyss,” Guterres said.
He had also, again, called for a ceasefire.
Britain requested an emergency UN Security Council meeting on Sudan, which was expected to take place Tuesday, according to a diplomat.
A UN convoy carrying 700 people completed an arduous 850-kilometre (530-mile) road trip to Port Sudan on the Red Sea coast from the capital, where they left behind gunfire and explosions.
The United Nations head of mission Volker Perthes said the convoy arrived safely. A UN statement separately said he and other key staff will “remain in Sudan and will continue to work towards a resolution to the current crisis”.
With Khartoum airport disabled after battles that left charred aircraft on the tarmac, many foreigners were airlifted from smaller airstrips to countries including Djibouti and Jordan.
US special forces swooped in with Chinook helicopters Sunday to rescue diplomats and their dependents, while Britain launched a similar rescue mission.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said more than 1,000 EU citizens had been taken out during a “long and intense weekend” involving airlift missions by France, Germany and others.
China said it had “safely evacuated” a first group of citizens and would “try every means to protect the lives, properties and safety of 1,500 plus Chinese compatriots in Sudan”.
Japan said it had evacuated 45 of its nationals and their spouses and temporarily closed its embassy in Khartoum.
The capital, a city of five million, has endured “more than a week of unspeakable destruction”, Norway’s ambassador Endre Stiansen wrote on Twitter after his evacuation.
Nearly 200 people from 14 countries arrived in the Saudi port of Jeddah on Monday night after crossing the Red Sea in a naval frigate.
“We travelled a long way from Khartoum to Port Sudan. It took us around 10 or 11 hours,” Lebanese national Suhaib Aicha told AFP as his young daughter cried on his shoulders.
“It took us another 20 hours on this ship from Port Sudan to Jeddah.”
Those Sudanese who can afford to are also fleeing Khartoum on crowded buses for the more than 900-kilometre desert drive north to Egypt.
Among the 800,000 South Sudanese refugees who previously fled civil war in their own country, some are choosing to return, with women and children crossing the border, said the UN refugee agency.
In the capital, street battles have left the sky often blackened by smoke from shelled buildings and torched shops.
“There was a rocket strike in our neighbourhood… it is like nowhere is safe,” said resident Tagreed Abdin, an architect.
Experts have long drawn links between the RSF and Russian mercenary group Wagner. Blinken earlier on Monday voiced “deep concern” that Wagner risked aggravating the war in Sudan.
The military toppled Bashir in April 2019 following mass citizen protests that raised hopes for a transition to democracy.
The two generals seized power in the 2021 coup, but later fell out, most recently over the planned integration of the RSF into the regular army.
Follow us on Facebook
The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author and forum participants on this website do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of Anaedo Online or official policies of the Anaedo Online.