Sudan updates: US State Secretary announces 72-hr ceasefire

Meanwhile, countries continue to evacuate their citizens, amid rising fear for those left behind

Children drawing on sheets of paper surrounded by art supplies
Children drawing on sheets of paper surrounded by art supplies


Sudan's warring army and Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary group have agreed to a 72-hour cease-fire, US State Secretary Antony Blinken said on Monday evening.

"Following intense negotiation over the past 48 hours, the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have agreed to implement a nationwide cease-fire starting at midnight on April 24, to last for 72 hours," Blinken said.

Nine days of fighting has seen at least three cease-fire agreements announced. None were fully upheld.

However, a relative lull in fighting during the weekend allowed various evacuation operations to take off, via land, sea and air.

Blinken said that the US would coordinate with regional and international partners, as well as Sudanese civilian stakeholders "to support a durable end to the fighting."

The coordination would help create a committee to oversee a permanent cease-fire agreement, as well as humanitarian arrangements in the country.

"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 said.

The RSF said the cease-fire would clear the way for humanitarian passages and facilitate civilians' movement to safe areas and hospitals. It would also help with the evacuation of diplomatic missions.

The paramilitary group vowed to abide by the cease-fire and warned against the other party's "continuous violations of the truce."

Here are the key headlines around the Sudan crisis for Monday, April 24:

Japan evacuates embassy staff, suspends operations

Japan has evacuated citizens, government perosnnel and their partners, as well as temporarily closed its embassy in Khartoum, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Tuesday.

"A total of 45 people took off from eastern Sudan for Djibouti in the C2 transport aircraft dispatched" by Japan, Kishida told reporters.

Additionally, at least 12 Japanese citizens traveled out of Sudan to Djibouti and Ethiopia with help from France and international organizations, Kishida added.

"With this, evacuation of all Japanese who had been in Khartoum hoping to evacuate by yesterday... including embassy members, has been completed," Kishida told reporters.

Japan's foreign minister said in a statement that the embassy was temporarily shut after staff and officials were evacuated.

Israel proposes hosting cease-fire talks

Israel offered to host Sudan's warring parties for talks in an effort to put in place a lasting cease-fire.

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said in a statement cited by Reuters that senior Israeli officials had led "very promising" mediation efforts over the past few days.

Israel and Sudan finalized last February a deal normalizing ties, turning the page on decades of Sudanese animosity toward Israel.

"Since fighting erupted in the country, Israel has been operating in various channels to reach a ceasefire, and the progress over the past few days in discussions with the sides is very promising," tthe statement read.

UN chief warns conflict could 'engulf' region

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned on Monday that the violence gripping Sudan for over a week "risks a catastrophic conflagration within Sudan that could engulf the whole region and beyond."

Addressing the 15 members of the UN Security Council, Guterres urged them to use their influence to stop the violence and restore the east African country to its democratic path.

"We must all do everything within our power to pull Sudan back from the edge of the abyss … We stand with them at this terrible time," he said.

Guterres' speech came as the UN continued its evacuation efforts outside of the conflict torn country.

A UN convoy carried some 700 people out of the capital's heavy fighting, on an excruciating 850 kilometer (roughly 530 mile) journey to the coastal city of Port Sudan, where evacuations via the Red Sea have been taking place.

UN mission head Volker Perthes said those evacuated arrived safely despite spending some 35 hours in a "not so comfortable convoy." He stressed, nevertheless, that it was "certainly better than three hours' bombing and sitting under the shells."

Separately, the UN announced on Monday that Perthes and other key staff of the mission will "remain in Sudan and will continue to work towards a resolution to the current crisis."

German evacuation planes land in Berlin

Germany's Bundeswehr military said on Monday that it had successfully flown 313 people out of Sudan, with a fourth plane carrying more evacuated citizens taking off later on Monday.

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said over 400 should be evacuated after the final plane lands.

The first three transport planes arrived in Jordan on Sunday night and in the early hours of Monday morning.

Three Airbus military transport A400Ms flew "both German citizens and also citizens of other countries," a Bundeswehr spokesman told the AFP news agency. He said the evacuation went well and that the third plane with around 100 people on board had landed at around 02:25 a.m. (2325 GMT/UTC) in Jordan.

At 06:15 a.m in Germany (0415 GMT/UTC), the first A321 passenger plane with 101 people reached Berlin, the Foreign Ministry said on Twitter.

"Further evacuation flights are planned, so long as the security situation permits it," the Foreign Ministry said.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz thanked the Bundeswehr for their "dangerous mission." He stressed the importance of "bringing citizens of our country and other nations to safety."

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said later on Monday the authorities were working on finding ways to evacuate the remaining citizens still in Sudan, adding that sea evacuation was being considered.

Alexander Müller, the FDP's defense policy spokesperson, told DW that Germany had learnt its lessons from the rushed evacuation in Afghanistan. He described the Sudan evacuation operation as "well coordinated, internationally coordinated."

"We have our troops in foreign countries where we have military bases and this is quite good coordinated and we have a somehow cooperative relationship with the parties which are fighting this civil war in Sudan. They seem to be helpful and do not disturb us with evacuation. So this time it looks much better than in Kabul."

Other evacuations continue

Several countries have rushed to set up similar extractions as fierce fighting continues in the capital, Khartoum, for control of Sudan.

Two French planes carried around 200 people of multiple nationalities to Djibouti, and Italy's Foreign Ministry said it had extracted about 300 people in total. Ireland also said it was dispatching an emergency team to assist with collecting its citizens and their dependants.

The US said on Sunday that they had airlifted around 100 people — US government personnel and their dependants and some foreign diplomats — out in Chinook helicopters.

Late on Monday, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan announced the US has started facilitating the departure of private US citizens. He added that intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets where in place to help land travel out of the capital and into Port Sudan.

"We have started to see a more regular pattern of convoys begin to arrive, including convoys that have Americans in them," Sullivan said. "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."

The UK said it had airlifted out diplomats and their families in a "complex and rapid" operation. British citizens stuck in Sudan, including some 4,000 with dual nationality and 400 with UK-only passports according to Foreign Office minister Andrew Mitchell, reported feeling abandoned.

Meanwhile, Sudan's neighbor to the north, Egypt, said that it had brought home 436 nationals by land.

A long convoy of UN vehicles and buses also left Khartoum by road heading east towards Port Sudan on the Red Sea.

China begins transferring citizens from Sudan

The first group of Chinese citizens has been "safely evacuated" from Sudan, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said, without providing the number of evacuees or other details.

Beijing estimates some 1,500 Chinese nationals are currently in the African country.

China claims to be Sudan's biggest trading partner. Over 130 Chinese companies had investments in Sudan according to last year's statistics.

Austria thanks Germany for evacuation help

Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg thanked Germany for evacuating 27 Austrian nationals from Sudan. The group was extracted in the night between Sunday and Monday, according to the diplomat.

They made up roughly half of Austrian citizens in Sudan, Schallenberg said. He also thanked France and "all partners" involved in the international evacuation efforts.

Sweden pulls embassy staff to Djibouti

The staff working for the Swedish Embassy in Khartoum, their families, and a number of other Swedish nationals have been evacuated from Sudan to Djibouti, Swedish officials said on Monday morning. The country's military planes and personnel would continue to help with the evacuation efforts for foreign nationals, they added.

Previously, Switzerland also said they decided to move their representatives out of the country for security reasons.

"This was made possible thanks to a collaboration with our partners, in particular France," the Swiss Foreign Ministry said on Twitter.

The EU's top foreign affairs official, Josep Borrell, said on Monday that the EU's ambassador was still in the country.

"The captain is the last one leaving the ship. He is in Sudan but no longer in Khartoum," Borrell said.

Second week of fighting in Khartoum

Fighting broke out on April 15 between forces loyal to army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and those of his deputy-turned-rival Mohamed Hamdan Daglo — more commonly known as Hemeti — who commands the powerful paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

The World Health Organization estimates that at least 420 people have been killed and more than 3,700 injured so far in the fighting. The UN says that thousands have fled by road or on foot but that millions are also sheltering in their homes without adequate food, water or electricity amid gunfire, explosions and looting.

Hemeti's RSF emerged from the Janjaweed fighters that former leader Omar al-Bashir unleashed in the Darfur region, where they were accused of war crimes, including genocide.

The military toppled Bashir in April 2019 following widespread civilian protests.

The two generals then seized power from a council trying to usher in more democratic rule in a 2021 coup, but later turned on each other, most recently in a dispute over the planned integration of the RSF into the regular army.

Several truces have been proposed or agreed in recent days, but not upheld.

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