18 June 2023

Sudan begins ceasefire ahead of conference to raise funds for humanitarian aid

18 June 2023

Sudan’s warring parties have begun a ceasefire after two months of fighting pushed the African nation into chaos.

Residents in the capital, Khartoum, and its neighbouring city of Omdurman reported “relative calm” in the first hours of the ceasefire on Sunday morning, after fierce clashes were reported the previous day.

The three-day truce comes ahead of a pledging conference on Monday, organised by the UN and other nations, to raise funds to cover Sudan’s humanitarian needs.

The UN said it has received less than 16% of the 2.57 billion US dollars (£2 billion) required to help those in need in Sudan in 2023. Another 470 million dollars (£366 billion) is needed to support refugees in the Horn of Africa region, it said.

The United States and Saudi Arabia announced the ceasefire agreement on Saturday. Both have led concerted international diplomatic efforts to stop the war over the past two months.

They said in a joint statement that the military and its rival paramilitary group, the Rapid Support Forces, agreed to halt fighting and “refrain from seeking military advantage during the ceasefire”.

Sudan was plunged into chaos after months of worsening tensions between the rival generals exploded into open fighting across the country in mid-April, with Khartoum and the western Darfur region bearing the brunt of the armed conflict.

The fighting turned Khartoum and other urban areas into battlegrounds.

More than 3,000 people lost their lives and some 6,000 others were wounded, according to Health Minister Haitham Mohammed Ibrahim.

It forced more than 2.2 million people to flee their homes to safer areas inside Sudan and to neighbouring countries.

The ceasefire was the latest in a series of attempted truces, brokered by the US and Saudi Arabia, all of which failed to stop the fighting, with meditators blaming the two warring sides for repeated violations.

The humanitarian situation in the war-ridden country has been worsening.

At least 24.7 million people – more than half of the country’s population – need humanitarian assistance, and more than 100,000 children are projected to suffer from severe acute malnutrition with medical complications by the end of the year, the World Health Organisation warned on Friday.

The UN health agency said it needs 145 million dollars (£113 million) to meet the increasing health needs of those affected by the conflict inside Sudan and assist those who fled to neighbouring countries.

“The scale of this health crisis is unprecedented,” said Ahmed Al-Mandhari, WHO regional director for the Eastern Mediterranean.

He added that funds are urgently needed to avert a looming collapse of Sudan’s healthcare system.

The conflict has wrecked the country’s infrastructure. It also left about 60% of health facilities across the country unable to function, amid a drastic decrease in medical supplies, which were either destroyed or looted, according to the WHO.

The UN agency said it confirmed at least 46 attacks on health facilities between April 15 and June 8.

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