War in Sudan: SAF and RSF sign week-long ceasefire ‘to facilitate humanitarian response’

Humanitarian aid cargo lands at at Port Sudan airport in May (File photo: WFP / Mohamed Elamin)


Representatives of the warring Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) signed an agreement on a seven-day ‘short-term ceasefire and humanitarian arrangements, in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia on Saturday. The ceasefire will come into force 48 hours after the signing of the agreement, shall remain in effect for seven days, and may be extended with the agreement of both parties.

In a statement today, Saudi Arabia and the USA, who co-brokered the Jeddah talks, announce the signing of the agreement, under which “the parties agreed to facilitate the delivery and distribution of humanitarian assistance, restore essential services, and withdraw forces from hospitals and essential public facilities”.

The parties also agreed to facilitate the safe passage of humanitarian actors and commodities, allowing goods to flow unimpeded from ports of entry to populations in need.

The new ceasefire is due to come into force at 21:45 (Khartoum time GMT+2) on May 22. Previous ceasefires and truces between the warring parties have been tenuous at best, often violated shortly after signing. Hostilities and civilian deaths continued in Sudan, despite the May 11 singing the Jeddah Declaration of Commitment to Protect the Civilians of Sudan.

On signing the new agreement yesterday, both parties have conveyed to the Saudi and US facilitators their commitment not to seek military advantage during the 48-hour notification period after signing the agreement and prior to the start of the ceasefire, the US-Saudi statement via the Sudan News Agency (SUNA) says.

Monitoring mechanism

The USA and Saudi Arabian facilitators acknowledge: “It is well known that the parties have previously announced ceasefires that have not been observed. Unlike previous ceasefires, the Agreement reached in Jeddah was signed by the parties and will be supported by a US-Saudi and international-supported ceasefire monitoring mechanism,” they say, adding that “this short-term ceasefire is in line with the step-by-step approach agreed by the parties. It is anticipated that subsequent talks will focus on additional steps necessary to improve security and humanitarian conditions for civilians such as vacating forces from urban centres, including civilian homes, accelerating removal of impediments to the free movement of civilians and humanitarian actors, and enabling public servants to resume their regular duties.”

‘The Jeddah talks… are not a political process and should not be perceived as one’ – USA, Saudi Arabian facilitators

The facilitators say that given the brutality of the conflict, their immediate focus has been on stopping the fighting to relieve the suffering of the Sudanese people. “The Jeddah talks have focused on a short-term ceasefire to facilitate humanitarian assistance and restoration of essential services. They are not a political process and should not be perceived as one.”

Affirming their support for the people of Sudan, the facilitators say they anticipate that subsequent talks in Jeddah will address steps needed to reach a permanent cessation of hostilities. We look forward to leadership by Sudanese civilian stakeholders, with the support of the regional and international community, on a political process to resume a democratic transition and form a civilian government.