The UN envoy in Sudan announced that the conflicting parties agreed to negotiate

US soldiers search US citizens before boarding a ship in Port Sudan, Sunday, April 30, 2023. (AP Photo/Smowal Abdalla) (Smowal Abdalla/)

The belligerent generals of Sudan have agreed to send representatives to the talkswhich could take place in Saudi Arabiaas declared on Monday to Associated Press the head of United Nations in the countryeven as the two sides clashed in the capital despite a further three-day extension of a fragile ceasefire.

If the talks come to fruition, they will initially focus on establishing a “stable and reliable” ceasefire monitored by national and international observersstated Volker Perthes, but warned that the conduct of the negotiations continued to pose problems. A series of temporary truces over the past week has eased fighting in only some areas, but in others fierce fighting has continued to drive civilians from their homes and push the country toward disaster.

Humanitarian groups have tried reset help flow to a country where almost a third of its population of 46 million depended on international aid even before the explosion of violence. The UN food agency announced on Monday that it was ending the temporary suspension of its operations in Sudanlaunched after the death of three members of his team in the region of Darfurdevastated by war, early in the fighting.

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Smoke rises in Khartoum, Sudan, on Saturday, April 29, 2023, as gunfire and heavy artillery fire continue. (AP Photo/Marwan Ali) (Marwan Ali/)

He World Food Program will resume the distribution of food in four provinces -Al-Qadaref, Gezira, Kassala and Nilo Blanco- working in areas where security allows it, according to a statement from its Executive Director, Cindy McCain. The number of people in need of help “will increase significantly as the fighting continues,” he added. “To better protect our much-needed aid workers and the people of Sudan, the fighting must stop.”

A day before, the International Committee of the Red Cross he sent a planeload of medical supplies to help hospitals overwhelmed by chaos.

The United States conducted the first evacuation of American civilians from Sudan. Guarded by military drones, a group of Americans set out on the perilous road trip from the capital, Khartoumto the city of port sudan, in the Red Sea. On Monday, a US Navy fast transport ship transferred 308 evacuees from Port Sudan to the Saudi port of jeddahaccording to Saudi officials.

US Embassy staff and US Navy officers carry a person in a wheelchair from the US Navy fast transport ship USNS Brunswick that arrived with evacuees from Sudan to the Sea Port of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (REUTERS/Mohammed Benmansour)
US Embassy staff and US Navy officers carry a person in a wheelchair from the US Navy fast transport ship USNS Brunswick that arrived with evacuees from Sudan to the Sea Port of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (REUTERS/Mohammed Benmansour) (MOHAMMED BENMANSOUR/)

Direct talks, if they take place, would be the first major sign of progress since fighting broke out on April 15 between the army and a rival paramilitary group called the Rapid Support Forces. During much of the conflict, General Abdel Fattah Burhanhead of the army, and general Mohammed Hamdan Dagalocommander of the Rapid Support Forces, have seemed determined to fight to the end.

His Fight for power has put to millions of Sudanese in the midst of gunfire, artillery barrages and airstrikess. About 530 peoplebetween civilians and combatants, have dead in the conflict, and others 4,500 have been injureds, according to the Sudanese Ministry of Health. Tens of thousands of people have fled Khartoum and other cities, and more than two-thirds of hospitals in areas where there is active fighting are out of service as fighters loot scarce supplies.

Explosions and gunshots resounded Monday in some areas of Khartoum and its neighboring city, omdurmanaccording to residents, hours after both sides promised to extend the ceasefire for 72 hours.

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US soldiers search US citizens before boarding a ship in Port Sudan. (AP Photo/Smowal Abdalla) (Smowal Abdalla/)

Atiya Abdalla Atiya, secretary of the Union of Doctors, said that the fighting intensified early Monday in different areas of the capital, including the army headquarters, the Republican Palace and the international airport. Clashes also broke out in the luxurious neighborhood of kafourihe added.

Many Hospitals in the capital remain out of service or inaccessible due to fighting, while others have been occupied by the warring factions, particularly the RSF, he said.

USA and Saudi Arabia have led a international campaign to get the generals to end the fighting and enter into deeper negotiations to resolve the crisis.

Speaking from Port Sudan, the UN envoy Perthes said they still face huge challenges to get both parties to abide by a true cessation of fighting in which violations are prevented. One possibility was to set up a monitoring mechanism that would include Sudanese and foreign observers, “but that has to be negotiated,” he said.

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Somalis who fled the conflict in Sudan sit on a bus after arriving home at the airport in Mogadishu, Somalia (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)

The talks to strengthen the ceasefire could take place in Saudi Arabia or in South Sudanhe said, adding that the former might be easier logistically, as he has close ties to both parties.

But even the conversations in Saudi Arabia pose problems, as each party needs to traverse the territory of the other to reach the talks. “This is very difficult in a situation of lack of trust,” he said.

He outbreak of fighting crowned months of aggravation of disputes between Burhan and give itwhile the international community tried to reach an agreement to establish a civilian government.

“We have all seen the enormous tensions”Perthes said. “But very concretely, we have to say that our efforts to de-escalate were unsuccessful.” He said he had repeatedly warned that “any spark” could ignite the power struggle.

UN Special Representative to Sudan Volker Perthes speaks during a press conference in Khartoum, Sudan, on January 10, 2022. (REUTERS/El Tayeb Siddig/File)
The UN special representative in Sudan, Volker Perthes, speaks during a press conference in Khartoum, Sudan, on January 10, 2022. (REUTERS / El Tayeb Siddig / file) (EL TAYEB SIDDIG /)

Perthes warned of a “serious humanitarian crisis”as the population was running out of food and fresh water in Khartoum and fighting was damaging water supply systems.

A real ceasefire is vital to to access residents trapped in their homes or injured, he said. “If we don’t get a stable ceasefire, the humanitarian situation will be even worse.”

He also warned that the clashes could draw in other armed factions in a country where multiple groups have waged several civil wars in the past decade. “And that could be transformed into an ewider confrontation between different groups and communities and militias in the country,” he said.

(© 2023 Associated Press)

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