June 20, 2024

Sudan’s Violent Clashes Persist Despite Call for Cease-Fire as Blinken’s Plea for 24-Hour Humanitarian Truce is Declined

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken meets with Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Enrique Manalo at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on April 11, 2023. [State Department photo by Freddie Everett
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken meets with Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Enrique Manalo at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on April 11, 2023. [State Department photo by Freddie Everett

Sudan is in turmoil as the conflict between the country’s army and the Rapid Support Forces (R.S.F.) paramilitary continues, with no end in sight. The Sudanese Army rejected a call by the R.S.F. for a 24-hour humanitarian cease-fire, as both sides continue to claim control of key installations.

The R.S.F. had called for the pause after speaking with the United States’ secretary of state, Antony J. Blinken, following an attack on a U.S. diplomatic convoy. Although it is not clear who is in control of the country, or which of the two dueling forces has the upper hand in the spreading violence, the situation continues to deteriorate. The conflict has already claimed the lives of at least 185 people and wounded over 1,800 others.

Many residents are stranded at home with no access to electricity or water for days, and hospitals are lacking critical supplies, leading to the evacuation of patients, including babies. Over a dozen hospitals have shut down, according to the Central Committee for Sudanese Doctors, with several facilities having been bombed or evacuated.

International officials have repeatedly called for an end to the fighting, which has crushed hopes of a transition to democracy after a 2019 uprising that toppled Omar Hassan al-Bashir, the longtime autocrat. “There will and must be accountability for anyone — including military or political actors — who attempts to undermine or delay Sudan’s democratic progress,” said Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

As the conflict enters its fourth day, the situation in Sudan remains uncertain. Conflicting reports emerged about whether the Sudanese Army has agreed to a 24-hour truce proposed earlier by the R.S.F., while Mercy Corps, the Oregon-headquartered aid agency, temporarily suspended all operations in Sudan as it assesses the security situation.

President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt, Sudan’s neighbor to the north, has publicly addressed Egypt’s military involvement in Sudan for the first time since the clashes broke out, saying Egypt was working to ensure the safety of Egyptian troops who were captured by R.S.F. paramilitary forces at a military base on Saturday.

As the violence continues, it is nearly impossible to provide humanitarian aid in and around Khartoum, according to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. If disruptions to the Sudanese health system persist, “it will almost go into a collapse,” warns Farid Aiywar, the organization’s head for Sudan.

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