Sudan warring factions make humanitarian promise

Apart from a commitment to protect civilians, the agreement calls for restoration of electricity, water and other basic services

Representative Image; Sudanese women (Photo: DW)
Representative Image; Sudanese women (Photo: DW)


Sudan's rival forces have committed to protecting civilians and the passage of humanitarian aid, late Thursday, but did not yet agree to a cease-fire, US officials said.

Sudan's army and the Rapid Support Forces also agreed to work towards a temporary cease-fire in future dialogue. This comes a week after the two warring factions began talks in the Saudi port of Jeddah moderated by US, UN and Saudi representatives, which US diplomats described as difficult.

"We affirm our commitment to ensuring the protection of civilians at all times, including by allowing safe passage for civilians to leave areas of active hostilities on a voluntary basis in the direction of their choice," the declaration said.

Within less than a month of fighting, over 750 people have been killed in the violent power struggle between the rival generals. According to UN figures, some 700,000 people have been displaced internally while another 150,000 have fled the north African nation.

Meanwhile, access to humanitarian aid has been restricted by the conflict, At least 18 humanitarian workers were killed and food worth millions of dollars was looted from the UN's World Food Programme in Khartoum.

Hope for restoration of water, electricity

Apart from a commitment to protect civilians, the agreement calls for the restoration of electricity, water and other basic services. It also calls for the withdrawal of forces from hospitals and "respectful burial" of the dead.

"This is not a ceasefire. This is an affirmation of their obligations under international humanitarian law, particularly with regard to the treatment of civilians and the need to create space for humanitarians to operate," a US official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said.

A proposal for a 10-day truce was on the table which they hope would turn to negotiations for a long-term end to the fight the official said.

"We are hopeful, cautiously, that their willingness to sign this document will create some momentum that will force them to create the space" to bring in relief supplies, she said. However, at this point the two sides remain "quite far apart."

Envoys of the two sides for the first time agreed on a US-Saudi mechanism to monitor ceasefires.

Sidelining democracy

Both Sudan's army and RSF were established and groomed by former dictator Omar al-Bashir. Though the generals worked together to overthrow the dictator in 2019, they have been locked in an internal struggle on the topic of integrating the two forces for transition to civilian rule.

Some US lawmakers and diplomats have sounded the alarm that violence is sidelining pro-democracy groups. "We cannot allow the civilian leadership of the groups that led the brave uprising that overthrew Omar al-Bashir to be shoved aside," Senator Chris Coons, a Democrat and close aide to President Joe Biden, told a hearing Wednesday.

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