Sudan’s army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces have agreed to extend a truce that was set to expire midnight local time on Thursday [April 27, 2023]. DW has the latest.
The Sudanese Armed Forces and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) on Thursday announced an extension to a cease-fire for another 72 hours.
“We announce our approval of the tripartite and quartet’s proposal to extend the humanitarian truce for an additional 72 hours, starting from twelve o’clock in the evening, Thursday 4-27-2023,” the RSF said in their statement on Twitter.
The truce was mediated by the US and Saudi Arabia, according to the statement.
Sudan’s military said in a statement earlier Thursday that it had agreed to extend the truce that was struck Tuesday. The existing truce, which was set to expire midnight Thursday, did not put a stop to the fighting but did allow people to flee to safer areas and for countries to carry out evacuations.
The fighting broke out on April 15 between General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, Sudan’s military ruler, and Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, the leader of the RSF forces, for control of the country.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said earlier Thursday that Washington was working with Sudan’s rival factions to extend the ceasefire and said he would provide more information “in the coming hours.”
“We are very actively working to extend the ceasefire,” Blinken told reporters. “We’ve had a 72-hour ceasefire, which like most ceasefires is imperfect but nonetheless has reduced violence,” he said.
“That’s obviously created somewhat better conditions for people in Sudan,” the US official stressed.
Blinken said that the US was also working to establish a more regular route for the evacuation of foreign citizens from Sudan.
Earlier, army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan said he had given initial approval to a proposal by the East African IGAD bloc for another three-day cease-fire. The RSF’s position on the proposal was unclear.
The State Department said on Wednesday that Blinken had discussed with African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat ways to create a sustainable end to the fighting.
Here are other key headlines about the crisis in Sudan for Thursday, April 27:
France, China evacuate 100s of foreign citizens
France’s Foreign Ministry said on Thursday that more people were evacuated from conflict-hit Sudan as a patchy cease-fire expires. Paris said it has so far flown or shipped out a total of 936 people, many of them French nationals but also including Americans, Britons, Ethiopians, Dutch, Italians and Swedes.
Separately, China’s Defense Ministry said on Thursday that it deployed its navy to fetch Chinese citizens from Sudan.
Tan Kefei, the ministry’s spokesperson, said the navy was deployed Wednesday “to protect the lives and property of Chinese people in Sudan.” The number of Chinese vessels involved was not immediately clear.
Beijing says that most Chinese citizens have been safely moved in groups to other countries in the region. Between Tuesday and Thursday, around 800 were transferred by sea and 300 were evacuated to neighboring countries by land, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
With over 130 Chinese companies investing in Sudan as of 2022, Beijing says it is the African nation’s largest trading partner.
Governments from around the world have been racing to bring home their embassy staff and citizens from Sudan by road, air and sea. Rescue operations intensified as a patchy 72-hour cease-fire slowed down the fighting between the army and paramilitaries since Tuesday.
But doubts were growing that such operations could continue as the fragile truce truce between the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary and the Sudanese army neared an end.
British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly called on UK citizens and their relatives in Sudan to use flights out on Thursday while they were still available.
“We cannot predict exactly what will happen when that cease-fire ends, but what we do know is it will be much, much harder, potentially impossible,” Cleverly told broadcaster Sky News.
Canada’s Defense Minister Anita Anand said the first Canadian evacuation flight from Sudan “has taken place,” adding that the ministry was working toward getting more Candaians back to their country.
Egypt says 16,000 people crossed from Sudan
Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said 16,000 people had crossed the border from Sudan since fighting escalated in the past two weeks.
According to the ministry, the figure includes 14,000 Sudanese citizens and 2,000 nationals of 50 other countries or members of international organizations.
Sudan’s ambassador calls for Germany and EU’s support
Ilham Ibrahim Mohamed Ahmed, Sudan’s ambassador to Germany, told DW that RSF fighters were to blame for the violence in her country. The RSF, for its part, blames the Sudanese army.
Ahmed also called on Germany and the European Union to continue supporting Sudan, noting the scale of humanitarian suffering.
“For Sudan, Germany and the European Union are important partners in the development and political process. Germany and the European Union play an important role in supporting Sudan’s efforts to complete the stalled political settlement,” she said.
“There is also a great need for humanitarian assistance at this time, especially medical supplies, due to the great destruction caused by the Rapid Support Forces.”
UN official says 3,500 fled to Ethiopia
Eric Mazango, communications officer for the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Ethiopia, told the AFP news agency that more than 3,500 people from over 35 nationalities arrived in Ethiopia after fleeing violence in Sudan.
“Of the total arrivals recorded, the largest group are Turkish nationals at more than 40%, followed by Ethiopians at 14%,” he told AFP.
“IOM Ethiopia has received several requests from embassies for reception and transportation assistance for about 700 third-country nationals arriving on the Ethiopian side of the Sudan border,” Mazango said.
Strikes reported in Khartoum, clashes in Darfur
The French AFP news agency reported that the army launched airstrikes in the capital on Thursday, targeting the RSF, while deadly fighting also flared up in the war-ravaged province of Darfur.
Reuters news agency also said the sound of airstrikes and anti-aircraft fire could be heard in Khartoum, as well as in the nearby cities of Omdurman and Bahri.
Darfur residents said clashes erupted in the capital city of Geneina, in an area already mired in outbursts of tribal violence.
The Associated Press (AP) news agency quoted locals as saying that fighters, mostly in uniforms of Sudan’s paramilitary, were attacking civilians, forcing many families to leave their homes.
US, African states push for cease-fire extension
Washington and Sudan’s neighbors have been racing to extend a US-brokered truce that has brought about a lull in fighting, but did not completely stop it. The 3-day cease-fire was due to expire at midnight (2200 UTC/GMT).
The US State Department said on Wednesday that Secretary of State Antony Blinken and African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat discussed working toward a sustainable end to the fighting in Sudan.
General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who leads the military, gave initial approval for the extension of the cease-fire late on Wednesday for another 72 hours, the army said in a statement.
An army envoy is also to be sent to Juba, the capital of South Sudan, for talks after the presidents of South Sudan, Kenya and Djibouti worked on a proposal for the truce extensions, the statement added.
But the RSF, led by Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, more commonly known as “Hemedti,” accused the army of attacking its forces on Thursday.
Doctors Without Borders plans to expand Sudan mission
The international relief group Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said its emergency teams were ready to travel to Sudan to help with the aid response to the ongoing violence.
“Experienced MSF emergency teams stand ready to enter Sudan as soon as they are able to support the scale-up of our activities,” said Kate Nolan, MSF deputy director of operations. “Other teams are currently preparing and identifying the best ways to send medical and humanitarian supplies to the country.”
According to the World Health Organization, at least 460 people have been killed and 4,100 injured since the fighting began almost two weeks ago. The true number of casualties is likely much higher than reported.
More DW coverage of the conflict in Sudan
Western states were heavily involved in the reform process in Sudan after the fall of Omar al-Bashir. In light of the escalating violence there, some are wondering if Western countries and their allies mishandled the situation.
Sudan’s neighbors are working to prevent an escalation of fighting in the region. Ethiopia is mediating through the African bloc, but experts say the neighbor in the Horn of Africa should take a stronger leadership role.
(AFP, Reuters, dpa)