In a rare moment of respite, the latest ceasefire in Sudan appears to be holding in the capital city of Khartoum and its neighboring areas, providing a glimmer of hope for the war-weary residents. After over five weeks of relentless violence, relative peace has settled over the region, although sporadic breaches of the truce have been reported.
The ceasefire, which went into effect on Monday evening, was met with immediate air strikes by the military targeting the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a paramilitary group. Thankfully, the air strikes have ceased since then. However, residents of Khartoum still report sporadic artillery fire, indicating that tensions persist.
The RSF, which controls significant portions of Khartoum and its adjacent cities, has been a central player in the conflict that erupted on April 15. The violence originated from a power struggle between the leaders of the regular army and the RSF. This internal conflict has resulted in the displacement of more than one million people and a breakdown in health services.
Efforts to end the hostilities have been undertaken by the United States and Saudi Arabia, who have been mediating talks between the warring factions. Previous ceasefires have proven futile, but this latest agreement includes a monitoring mechanism, according to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Although details regarding the remote monitoring system were not disclosed, Blinken emphasized that any violations of the ceasefire would not go unnoticed, and appropriate measures would be taken against those responsible.
The atmosphere in other conflict-affected regions, such as El Geneina and Nyala in the Darfur region, also seems relatively calm, as witnesses have reported. The situation in these cities has been dire, mirroring the devastating impact of the conflict on the country as a whole.
Despite the hope brought about by the ceasefire, there remain challenges ahead. Just hours before the agreement took effect, RSF commander Gen Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti, issued a defiant message stating that his troops would not retreat until their goals were achieved. Such remarks raise concerns about the commitment of all parties involved to fully honor the ceasefire.
Residents of Khartoum described the city as an almost deserted ghost town, with many fleeing their homes due to the intense violence. The temporary lull in fighting offers a window of opportunity for aid workers to deliver much-needed humanitarian assistance, including food and medical supplies, to those affected by the conflict.
In response to the dire humanitarian situation, the United States announced a substantial pledge of $245 million in humanitarian aid for Sudan and its neighboring countries, which have been grappling with an escalating refugee crisis triggered by the conflict.
As Sudan cautiously navigates this fragile ceasefire, the international community remains hopeful that a lasting resolution can be achieved, bringing an end to the suffering endured by millions of Sudanese people.