Warring factions agree to three-day ceasefire in Sudan

Warring factions agree to three-day ceasefire in Sudan

Warring military factions in Sudan have agreed to a three-day ceasefire effective midnight local time Monday, following ongoing fighting since April 15 between the Sudanese army and paramilitaries of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in Khartoum, Sudan. EPA-EFE/STRINGER

April 24 (UPI) — Warring military factions in Sudan have agreed to a three-day ceasefire as the United States works to get private citizens and diplomatic personnel out of the country.

The ceasefire is set to begin at midnight local time, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Monday. Blinken said the United States urged the Sudanese Armed Forces and Rapid Support Forces to “immediately and fully uphold the ceasefire.”

“Following intense negotiations, the SAF and RSF have agreed to implement and uphold a 72-hour nationwide ceasefire starting midnight, April 24,” Blinken said. “We welcome their commitment to work with partners and stakeholders for permanent cessation of hostilities and humanitarian arrangements.”

“We will continue to work with the Sudanese parties and our partners toward the shared goal of a return to civilian government in Sudan,” Blinken added, after more than a week of fighting between the military and rival paramilitary groups left hundreds dead and thousands wounded in the capital of Khartoum.

U.S. officials also announced Monday they were working to help get private U.S. citizens out of the country.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan confirmed the United States had placed intelligence and reconnaissance assets over the 500-mile land evacuation route from Khartoum to the Port of Sudan as clashes between the Sudan Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces intensified.

“Americans are free people. We cannot dictate where they travel, tell them they must go or not go to a particular place,” Sullivan said regarding the estimated 16,000 private U.S. citizens in Sudan.

“We have started to see a more regular pattern of convoys begin to arrive, including convoys that have Americans in them. Once at the port, then we are using diplomatic facilities in neighboring countries to help those Americans with their onward travel so that they can get safely out of the country,” he added.

Defense Department spokesman Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder also told reporters Monday that the Pentagon plans to send ships off the coast of Port Sudan to help Americans who arrive there.

“The idea here is to have these capabilities offshore available should we need, for example, to transport citizens to another location, should we need to provide medical care, those kinds of things,” Ryder said, while Sullivan added that there are no plans to send troops into Sudan to help citizens leave.

“It is not standard practice for the United States to send in the U.S. military” to extract U.S. citizens, Sullivan told reporters Monday. “We didn’t do it in Libya. We didn’t do it in Syria. We didn’t do it in Yemen, and, no, we didn’t do it in Ukraine. Afghanistan was a unique case involving the end of the 20-year war that the United States was centrally involved in.”

Meantime, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said “The United Nations is not leaving Sudan,” as he called on Security Council members to urge a stop to the violence.

“Since the start of fighting on April 15, hundreds of people have been killed and thousands injured. The violence must stop. It risks a catastrophic conflagration within Sudan that could engulf the whole region and beyond,” Guterres told the Security Council in New York on Monday.

“Let me be clear: the United Nations is not leaving Sudan. Our commitment is to the Sudanese people, in support of their wishes for a peaceful and secure future. We stand with them at this terrible time,” Guterres added.

France, Germany and the European Union have joined the United States, Britain and other countries in pulling diplomatic personnel out of Sudan as the fighting escalates.

The United States completed its evacuations of diplomats on Sunday. Britain, Sweden, Spain, the Netherlands, Japan, Italy, Germany, France and Canada airlifted and evacuated diplomats, embassy staff and others from Khartoum as well.

“The U.K. has undertaken a military operation to evacuate British Embassy staff from Khartoum, due to escalating violence and threats against foreign diplomats and embassy properties,” the British government said in a statement Sunday.

French President Emmanuel Macron said at least 388 people had been evacuated in a flight that brought French citizens and other foreign nationals to Djibouti on Sunday and a subsequent evacuation effort on Monday.

Germany’s foreign ministry said it had evacuated 311 foreign nationals and others and was planning additional flights “if the situation on the ground allows.”

Some 20 diplomats with the European Union left Khartoum and have returned to their home countries, the alliance’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Monday.

He added that “many more European citizens” have also been evacuated from Sudan, estimating that more than 1,000 people had made it out of the country.

“It has been a successful operation, but complex,” Borrell said.

The Sudan Armed Forces, led by Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, and the powerful paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, led by Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, were allies in dethroning Sudan’s former dictator in 2019 but have been fighting against each other to control the country since April 15.

The fighting has killed more than 420 people, most of them civilians, with 3,700 others injured, according to the Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office of the World Health Organization and the Sudan Doctors’ Syndicate.  » …
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