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Sudan's Warring Sides Begin Cease-Fire Ahead of Aid Fundraiser


People check a damaged house in southern Khartoum, June 12, 2023, as deadly shelling and gunfire resumed after the end of a 24-hour cease-fire in Sudan.
People check a damaged house in southern Khartoum, June 12, 2023, as deadly shelling and gunfire resumed after the end of a 24-hour cease-fire in Sudan.

Sudan’s warring parties began another attempt at a cease-fire Sunday after more than two months of brutal fighting and ahead of an international conference to raise funds for humanitarian assistance.

Residents in the capital, Khartoum, and its neighboring city of Omdurman reported “relative calm” in the first hours of the cease-fire Sunday morning, after fierce clashes were reported the previous day.

Sudan descended into chaos after fighting erupted in mid-April between the military, led by Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, commanded by Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo.

The three-day truce that began Sunday came ahead of a pledging conference the U.N. and other nations will hold Monday to raise funds to cover Sudan's humanitarian needs.

The U.N. says it received less than 16% of the $2.57 billion required to help those in need in Sudan in 2023. Another $470 million is needed to support refugees in the Horn of Africa region, it said.

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

The U.S. and Saudi Arabia said in a joint statement that the military and RSF agreed to halt fighting and “refrain from seeking military advantage during the cease-fire.”

The fighting capped months of worsening tensions between the rival generals. The conflict turned Khartoum and other urban areas into battlegrounds. More than 3,000 people lost their lives and over 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 neighboring nations.

All of Sudan's neighbors have their own conflicts and economic problems and the influx of Sudanese refugees adds to the burden. Cash-strapped Egypt has received more than 200,000 Sudanese since the fighting began in mid-April, according to the U.N. migration agency.

The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, announced Sunday the allocation of about $22 million to help the Egyptian government deal with the influx of Sudanese who fled the war and crossed into Egypt.

“I know this is not enough and you are going to pay much more, but at least, let us contribute a little bit in your support,” Borrell told a joint news conference in Cairo with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry.

The cease-fire was the latest in a series of attempted truces brokered by the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, all of which failed to stop the fighting, with the mediators 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 over 100,000 children are projected to suffer from severe acute malnutrition with medical complications by the end of the year, the World Health Organization warned on Friday.

The U.N. health agency said it needs $145 million to meet the increasing health needs of those impacted by the conflict inside Sudan and assist those who fled to neighboring countries.

“The scale of this health crisis is unprecedented,” 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 health care system.

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

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