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Volatile ceasefire extended in violence-hit Sudan

PUNJAB NEWS LINE | May 30, 2023 03:13 PM

Khartoum:The Sudanese Army and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have agreed to a five-day extension of a ceasefire agreement the two warring sides signed on May 20, as relevant parties, including the African Union (AU), are hammering out a road map to ending the protracted conflict.

While the two sides affirmed commitment to allowing the safe passage of civilians from conflict areas and protecting civilian supplies, the truce has been constantly breached during the cease-fire period, impeding humanitarian access and restoration of genuine stability, reports Xinhua news agency.

The Agreement on a Short-Term Cease-fire and Humanitarian Arrangements was reached through negotiations that started on May 6 in Jeddah under a Saudi-US initiative with the aim of ending the conflict in Sudan and facilitating access of humanitarian aid to civilians.

The seven-day truce, which entered into force on May 22, was scheduled to expire at 9.45 p.m. on Monday.

Not long after the agreement took effect, sporadic clashes were reported between the army and the RSF.

In a statement last week, Saudi Arabia and the US said that the cease-fire monitoring mechanism detected serious breaches of the agreement.

As relevant parties were working on the extension on Monday, violent clashes broke out in Sudan's capital Khartoum.

According to eyewitnesses, the clashes took place in Omdurman and Bahri (Khartoum North) cities, where the Sudanese Army launched airstrikes on RSF sites in the two cities, while the RSF responded with anti-aircraft missiles.

Saudi Arabia and the US said in a statement after the extension was agreed upon that even though the ceasefire was "imperfectly observed", an extension still can provide time for further humanitarian assistance, restoration of essential services, and discussion of a potential longer-term extension.

To help restore peace in the country, the AU adopted the Roadmap for the Resolution of the Conflict in Sudan.

The roadmap was adopted during the AU Peace and Security Council meeting that was held at the heads of state and government level on May 27, focusing on the situation in Sudan, the regional bloc said in a communique.

The roadmap outlined six elements that include the establishment of a coordination mechanism to ensure all efforts by the regional and global actors are harmonized and impactful; an immediate, permanent, inclusive and comprehensive cessation of hostilities; and an effective humanitarian response.

The high-level meeting underscored the overriding importance of a single, inclusive and consolidated peace process for Sudan, coordinated under the joint auspices of the AU, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, the League of Arab States and the UN, along with like-minded partners.

"The council, with deep concern, strongly condemns the ongoing senseless and unjustified conflict between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces, which has resulted in an unprecedented dire humanitarian situation, indiscriminate killing of innocent civilians," the statement said.

The deadly armed clashes which erupted on April 15 have inflicted heavy loss upon the country.

According to the latest report of the Sudanese Doctors Syndicate, the death toll has climbed to 866, with 3,721 injuries.

The UN said in a statement on Monday that the Sudan conflict is already driving displacement and hunger.

"More than one million citizens and refugees are expected to flee the country, while an additional 2.5 million inside its borders are set to face acute hunger in the coming months," said the statement, requiring "urgent" action from the international community.

According to media reports, more than 350,000 people have already fled into neighbouring countries, with most heading to Egypt, Chad, South Sudan and Ethiopia.

Egypt has received so far 150,000 Sudanese citizens fleeing the ongoing conflict.

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