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US, Saudi Arabia call on Sudan warring sides to extend ceasefire | Conflict News

Sudanese civilians fear that fighting between the army and rival paramilitary forces will intensify as a shaky truce signed last week is about to expire.

The United States and Saudi Arabia have called on Sudan’s warring sides to extend a fragile ceasefire as weeks of fighting stalled in the capital and elsewhere in the African nation.

In a joint statement on Sunday, Washington and Riyadh called for an extension of the current ceasefire, which is set to expire at 9:45 p.m. [19:45 GMT] on Monday.

“While not perfect, the extension will help deliver much-needed humanitarian assistance to the people of Sudan,” the statement said.

It also urged Sudan’s military junta and the rival paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) to continue negotiations to reach an agreement on an extended ceasefire.

Fighting broke out in mid-April. Military commander-in-chief General Abdul Fattah al-Burhan and Forces Without Borders leader General Mohammad Hamdan Dagalo led a 2021 coup that toppled Western-backed Prime Minister Hamdok government.

The conflict has killed hundreds, injured thousands and pushed the country to the brink of collapse. It has forced nearly 1.4 million people from their homes for safer areas within Sudan or neighboring countries, according to the United Nations migration agency.

The military and Reporters Without Borders agreed last week to a week-long truce brokered by the United States and Saudi Arabia. However, like other ceasefire agreements before it, the ceasefire did not stop fighting in the capital Khartoum and elsewhere in the country.

On Sunday, residents reported sporadic fighting in parts of Omdurman, a city adjacent to the capital, and that army planes were seen flying over the city. Fighting was also reported in El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur.

Al Jazeera’s Shiba Morgan reported from Khartoum that humanitarian aid was unavailable in the capital and in many parts of the country.

“Humanitarian aid was able to arrive by Saturday, but very few people arrived,” Morgan said. “People fear that as the ceasefire expires, there will be more fighting and they will be caught between the two sides.”

fragile truce

In a separate statement, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia accused the military and Rapid Support Forces of violating the ceasefire, saying such violations “significantly impede the delivery of humanitarian aid and the restoration of essential services.”

The statement cited military airstrikes, including one that reportedly killed at least two people in Khartoum on Saturday. RSF is also accused of continuing to occupy homes, private businesses and public buildings, and looting some residences.

“Both sides told mediators that their goal was to de-escalate the situation to facilitate humanitarian assistance and necessary repairs, but both sides posed for further escalation,” the statement said.

Mini Minawi, the governor of western Sudan’s war-torn Darfur region, called on locals on Sunday to “take up arms” after markets were burned and health and aid facilities looted.

“I call on all our honorable citizens, the people of Darfur, men, women and children, to take up arms and protect their property,” he tweeted.

Many of the fiercest fighting took place in Khartoum and Darfur, near the border with Chad.

Minawi is also the head of an armed faction whose involvement could escalate the fighting, Morgan said.

Tens of thousands of Sudanese have fled across the border to Chad amid growing fears that those who remain will be militarized.

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