Sudanese army and rival force under pressure to extend truce after mediators show impatience over violations

CAIRO (AP) — Sudan’s warring parties were under pressure Monday to extend a tenuous ceasefire in their battle for control of the country, after two key international mediators expressed impatience over continued truce violations. .

In a joint statement on Sunday, the United States and Saudi Arabia called out the Sudanese military and its rival rapid support paramilitary forces for specific violations of a week-long truce that is due to expire Monday evening instead. than to launch another general appeal for the respect of the agreements .

Sudan descended into chaos after fighting broke out in mid-April between the army, led by General Abdel-Fattah Burhan, and the RSF, commanded by General Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo. The fighting has killed at least 866 civilians and injured thousands more, according to the Sudanese Doctors Syndicate, which tracks civilian casualties. The toll could be much higher, the medical group said.

The conflict has turned the capital, Khartoum, and other urban areas into battlegrounds, forcing nearly 1.4 million people to flee their homes to safer areas inside Sudan or cross into neighboring countries. . From the start, foreign governments rushed to evacuate their diplomats and nationals as thousands of foreign residents rushed out of the African nation.

For weeks, the United States and Saudi Arabia have been brokering talks between the military and the RSF in the Saudi port city of Jeddah. So far, there have been seven declared ceasefires, all of which have been violated to some degree.

In Sunday’s statement, the United States and Saudi Arabia noted that the military continued to carry out airstrikes, while the RSF continued to occupy people’s homes and seize properties. Fuel, cash, aid supplies and vehicles belonging to a humanitarian convoy were stolen, with the thefts occurring in both military and RSF-held areas, the statement said.

Alan Boswell, of the International Crisis Group think tank, said the joint statement was intended to pressure both sides into greater compliance, at a time when the United States and Saudi Arabia have not alternative to the Jeddah talks.

“There is still no clear path to a successful ceasefire,” said Boswell, who is Crisis Group’s Horn of Africa project director. “It is becoming increasingly clear by the day that the mediators cannot afford to wait for a stable ceasefire to launch the broader political process needed to find a way out of the conflict.”

The conflict came to a stalemate as neither side was able to deliver a decisive blow.

Cameron Hudson, a former US diplomat, said the selectively observed ceasefires and slow talks in Jeddah should continue.

“Washington and Riyadh have been too invested in the success of the ceasefire and the process they put in place because failure at this point would reflect poorly on them as well as the parties,” Hudson said. , Senior Fellow of the Center for Strategic and International Studies Think Tank.

“In the current scenario, diplomats get their ceasefire and can claim progress towards peace,” he said. “The parties have to keep fighting, and the only ones who lose are the 45 million Sudanese,” he said.

The war has inflicted widespread destruction on residential areas of Khartoum and the neighboring towns of Omdurman and Bahri. Residents reported raids and looting of their homes, mainly by paramilitary troops. Many have taken to social media to condemn the looting and seizure of their homes allegedly by the RSF.

Aid group offices, health facilities and other civilian infrastructure were also attacked and looted. Many hospitals have become inaccessible since the fighting began on April 15.

Sexual violence, including rape of women and girls, has been reported in Khartoum and the western Darfur region, which has seen some of the worst fighting in the conflict. Almost all of the reported cases of sexual assault have been blamed on RSF, which did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Doctors and activists have also been attacked by both sides of the war. The fate of prominent surgeon and pro-democracy activist Dr. Alaa Eldin Awad Nogoud remains unknown on Monday, two days after armed operatives from the military and intelligence services took him from his home in Khartoum.

Nogoud had told a television station last week that the army seized medical aid provided by the World Health Organization and stored it in a military hospital in Omdurman, according to local media. He said doctors were denied access to the facility when they demanded a share of supplies for other hospitals. They were told permission was needed first to gain access, he said.

Late Sunday, RSF troops shot dead a political leader of Sudan’s largest Umma party as he tried to resolve a dispute between paramilitaries and citizens of Khartoum’s Haj Youssef neighborhood, the party said on Monday.

In West Darfur province, villages and camps for displaced people have been destroyed and burnt down in recent weeks, with tens of thousands of people, mostly women and children, fleeing their homes into neighboring Chad, said Dr. Salah Tour, who heads the province’s doctors’ union.

Nyala in South Darfur, al-Fasher in North Darfur and Zalingei in Central Darfur have seen heavy fighting in recent days. Homes and civilian infrastructure were destroyed and looted, forcing thousands of people from their homes, according to UN agencies.

Toby Harvard, coordinator of the UN refugee agency in Sudan, urged both sides to stop fighting in Darfur and work with local leaders to “restore security, the rule of law and the social fabric in the war-torn region.

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