May 21, 2023 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) signed a crucial ceasefire agreement in the first hours of Saturday. The aim of this agreement is to facilitate the delivery of urgent humanitarian aid and restore essential services across the country.
Mediated by the United States and Saudi Arabia, the agreement underscores the commitment to upholding Sudan’s sovereignty, unity, and territorial integrity. It reaffirms the principles and commitments established in the Jeddah Declaration of Commitment to Protect the Civilians of Sudan, agreed upon on May 11, 2023.
Taking effect 48 hours after the signing, the ceasefire agreement spans a designated short-term period of seven days.
The agreement encompasses all of Sudan, and the parties jointly bear the responsibility of effectively communicating the ceasefire to the civilian population through various channels, including print, radio, and other means of communication.
Of utmost importance, the ceasefire agreement obliges the parties to ensure freedom of movement for civilians throughout Sudan and protect them from violence, harassment, recruitment, and other forms of abuse. It explicitly prohibits a wide range of actions that could endanger civilians or hinder humanitarian efforts, such as attacks on civilians, targeting of infrastructure, obstruction of aid, and acquisition or distribution of arms.
Conversely, the agreement permits certain actions, including repairing essential services and infrastructure, conducting medical evacuations, and providing non-combat materials and humanitarian assistance. The parties commit to establishing favourable conditions for emergency relief provision and ensuring safe and unimpeded access for humanitarian agencies.
To ensure compliance with the ceasefire agreement and coordinate humanitarian assistance, the parties have agreed to establish a Monitoring and Coordination Committee (MCC). The committee comprises representatives from the SAF, RSF, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United States, and international humanitarian actors. Its primary mandate is to oversee the implementation of the agreement.
The MCC will receive reports of ceasefire violations, mediate disputes between the parties, and take appropriate measures in response to violations, including notifying and publicly identifying the responsible party. Additionally, it will facilitate coordination with humanitarian actors, including the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), to ensure unhindered access to humanitarian aid, infrastructure repairs, and protection of civilians.
Ahead of the agreement’s signing, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken engaged in a conversation with General Abdel Fattah al Burhan, SAF Commander in Chief. The State Department statement expressed Secretary Blinken’s urging for flexibility and leadership.
It is noteworthy that General Al-Burhan had previously expressed reservations about international monitoring of the ceasefire agreement.
The humanitarian truce is designed to pave the way for political talks involving the IGAD, African Union, United Nations and major international actors.