Sudanese envoys meet under pressure to cease violence 2023

U.S. and Saudi Arabia reported that Sudan’s belligerent parties began discussions on Saturday in an effort to solidify a fragile cease-fire following three weeks of intense fighting that has killed hundreds and brought the African nation to the verge of collapse.

According to a joint Saudi-American statement, the first negotiations between the Sudanese military and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces since combat broke out on April 15 were taking place in the Saudi Arabian coastal city of Jeddah.

The discussions are part of a diplomatic initiative proposed by Saudi Arabia and the United States to end the fighting that has transformed the capital of Sudan, Khartoum, and other urban areas into battlegrounds and displaced hundreds of thousands of people.

Pressure is mounting as envoys from Sudan begin peace negotiations.

In a joint statement, Saudi Arabia and the United States urged both parties to “actively engage in the talks towards a ceasefire and an end to the conflict, which will spare the Sudanese people’s suffering.”

The statement did not provide a timeline for the talks, which follow concerted efforts by Riyadh and other international powers to bring the belligerent parties in Sudan to the table of negotiations.

Officials from the military and the RSF stated that the discussions would address the establishment of humanitarian corridors in the battleground cities of Khartoum and Omdurman.

One military official stated that they would also discuss providing protection to civilian infrastructure, such as health facilities that have been inundated and suffer from severe staffing and medical supply shortages.

The RSF official stated that they would also debate a monitoring mechanism for the cease-fire, which is the latest in a series of failed attempts to end the violence.

The pro-democracy movement stated that the Jeddah discussions would be a “first step” in preventing the collapse of the country and called on military and RSF leaders to take “bold action” to end the conflict.

The movement, a coalition of political parties and civil society groups, negotiated with the military for months to restore the country’s democratic transition following a 2021 military coup led by army chief Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, who also chairs the ruling sovereign council, and his deputy Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo.

Under intense pressure, envoys from Sudan have begun peace negotiations.

As of Monday, the Sudanese Health Ministry reported that at least 550 persons, including civilians, had been slain and over 4,900 others had been wounded. The Sudanese Doctors’ Syndicate, which monitors only civilian casualties, reported on Friday that 473 civilians have been slain and more than 2,450 have been injured as a result of the violence.

The conflict was the culmination of months of tensions between Burhan and Dagalo. It further destabilized the country and compelled foreign governments to evacuate diplomats and thousands of foreign nationals from Sudan. As the combat continued in urban areas, hundreds of thousands of Sudanese fled the country or entered neighboring countries.

The United Nations refugee agency estimated that 860,000 Sudanese would migrate to neighboring countries and that $445 million would be required to assist them.

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