Evacuations continue: Hope for ceasefire in Sudan


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Status: 04/25/2023 02:55 am

In Sudan, the parties to the conflict have agreed on a 72-hour ceasefire. While Western countries hope it will last, they continue to evacuate foreigners. Tens of thousands of Sudanese have already fled to neighboring countries.

A ceasefire between the two parties to the conflict came into effect at midnight in Sudan, which had been shaken by days of fighting. There were initially no reports of major skirmishes during the night, but due to recent experiences there was skepticism as to whether the ceasefire would really hold.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced on Monday that the Sudanese armed forces and their rival paramilitary units (Rapid Support Forces, RSF) had agreed to observe a nationwide ceasefire for 72 hours from midnight.

The RSF confirmed the ceasefire and announced the establishment of humanitarian corridors to allow civilians access to medical care and safe zones, and to assist in the evacuation of foreign diplomats. Similar announcements had already been made by the parties to the conflict, but these were not complied with. They repeatedly broke a self-agreed ceasefire for the Eid-al-Fitr celebrations at the end of the Muslim month of fasting, Ramadan, which was supposed to last until Monday evening.

US working towards a permanent end to the fighting

US National Security Council communications director John Kirby told CNN that they have been in close contact with leaders of both camps since fighting began in Sudan, trying to persuade them to agree on a stable ceasefire. Now it is important to monitor compliance with the new ceasefire as best as possible.

Blinken emphasized that in order to work towards a permanent end to the fighting, the USA wanted to coordinate with regional and international partners as well as Sudanese actors. A committee should be set up to oversee negotiations on an end to the fighting and the implementation of the results.

The UN Security Council also wants to discuss the situation in Sudan again in an emergency meeting – according to diplomatic circles, probably in a public round on Tuesday evening around 9:00 p.m. (CEST).

Bundeswehr directs international evacuation flights

While foreign nationals continued to be evacuated from Sudan on Monday, fierce fighting broke out again in the country. According to media reports, the Sudanese air force again flew attacks in the city of Omdurman, which borders the capital Khartoum.

In the meantime, Germany has taken over the coordination of evacuation flights from the crisis state from France. The Bundeswehr is now responsible for coordinating the flight movements to the receiving airfield, said a spokesman for the Bundeswehr Operations Command on the night of the German Press Agency. The aim is to regulate flight times and practical operations at the military airfield near Khartoum, which is used by western countries.

Federal Defense Minister Boris Pistorius spoke of a “really great success in such a short time”. He sees his “great trust in the troops” confirmed. Pistorius emphasized that the Bundeswehr had “shown in an exemplary way how capable it is of cold starts and how quickly it can adapt to such a situation”. The “extraordinarily complex” mission went “without any breakdowns, without any problems”, “so far none of our people have been harmed”. The mission also includes the Special Forces Command and the GSG9 with their capabilities. The Bundeswehr used its base in Jordan for the transport, which is otherwise used to fight the terrorist militia IS.

About 400 Germans flown out

Several western countries had begun to fly their own citizens and members of other nations out of the country over the weekend. France has now practically completed its evacuation mission. How long the rescue flights can continue depends largely on the security situation in the country.

According to EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, more than 1,000 foreigners were brought to safety by Monday afternoon. The Spaniard reckoned that by the end of the day alone there would have been at least 1,200 to 1,500 EU citizens.

The German Air Force flew out about 400 Germans and other nationals in military transports. However, the Foreign Office assumed on Monday that there were still Germans on site. Their number is unclear, “because we can’t reach some of them by phone at the moment,” said a spokesman.

Federal Defense Minister Boris Pistorius and Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock had previously expressed their relief at the course of the mission. But it is not yet the “moment of relief,” said Baerbock. There are even more Germans on site, said Baerbock. We are working hard to reach them.

Will Khartoum become even more of a battlefield?

The head of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Khartoum, Christine Röhrs, was also brought to safety from Sudan. In an interview with the ARD daily topics She reports concern that “when the internationals are gone, there will be no corrective. That the generals, who now feel unobserved, will turn the city into an even more battlefield.”

The chances of negotiations would certainly increase as soon as it turned out that one is clearly superior to the other, Röhrs assesses the situation. So far, however, this has not been seen. “As long as both still see a chance to wipe out the nemesis, it’s more likely to escalate.”

Regional powers as neighbors are most likely to have an opportunity to exert influence. “Many are very interested in the conflict not spilling over into neighboring countries,” says Röhrs. In her opinion, one solution is for one of these countries to take the initiative and bring the two opponents together on neutral ground.

Israel offers itself as a mediator

On Monday evening, Israel brought itself into play as a mediator in the conflict. The Israeli foreign ministry has offered to host talks in Israel to end the violence, a spokesman said. There is contact with high-ranking representatives of both sides in Sudan. Israel has been working for years to normalize its relations with the African country.

The UN special representative in Sudan, Volker Perthes, wants to stay in the country and work there: “We are determined to stay in Sudan and to support the Sudanese people in every way we can,” he said. However, the situation for the Sudanese remains precarious: according to the UN emergency aid office, tens of thousands have already fled to neighboring Chad, Egypt and South Sudan. Since the situation in the country is still extremely unstable, more people will probably try to get to safety.

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