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

CAIRO – Sudan’s warring parties began a ceasefire on Sunday morning after two months of fighting that plunged the African nation into chaos.

Residents of the capital Khartoum and its neighboring city of Omdurman reported “relative calm” in the early hours of the ceasefire on Sunday morning, following heavy clashes reported the day before.

The three-day truce preceded a pledging conference the UN and other nations will convene on Monday to raise funds to cover Sudan’s humanitarian needs.

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

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

The United States and Saudi Arabia said in a joint statement that the military and its rival paramilitary group, the Rapid Support Forces, had agreed to stop fighting and “refrain from seeking military advantage during the ceasefire”.

Sudan has descended into chaos after months of escalating tensions between rival generals that erupted into open fighting in mid-April across the country, the capital, Khartoum and the western Darfur region bearing the brunt of the armed conflict.

The fighting has turned Khartoum and other urban areas into battlefields. More than 3,000 people lost their lives and more than 6,000 others were injured, according to Health Minister Haitham Mohammed Ibrahim. It has forced more than 2.2 million people to flee their homes to safer areas inside Sudan and to neighboring countries.

The ceasefire was the latest in a series of truce attempts, brokered by the United States and Saudi Arabia, which failed to stop the fighting, with ponders accusing the two warring sides of violations repeated.

The humanitarian situation in this war-ravaged country has worsened. At least 24.7 million people – more than half of the country’s population – need humanitarian assistance. And more than 100,000 children are expected to suffer from severe acute malnutrition with medical complications by the end of the year, the World Health Organization warned on Friday.

The UN health agency said it needed $145 million to meet the growing health needs of people affected by the conflict inside Sudan and help those who fled to neighboring 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 an imminent collapse of Sudan’s health system.

The conflict has destroyed the country’s infrastructure. It has also left around 60% of health facilities across the country non-functional, amid a drastic decrease in medical supplies, which have been 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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