Sudan’s warring sides reach deal in Saudi to protect civilians, humanitarian aid

Representatives of Sudan’s warring sides have signed to a framework agreement to protect civilians and allow for humanitarian aid flows into the country, US officials confirmed Thursday.

“This is not ceasefire,” a senior US State Department official told reporters on Thursday. “This is an affirmation of their obligations under international humanitarian law, particularly with regard to the treatment of civilians, and the need to create space for humanitarians to operate.”

The senior officials described the agreement, which was obtained by Al-Monitor, as a “first step” towards reining in the fighting.

US diplomats led by the State Department’s top Africa policy official, Molly Phee, are in Jeddah mediating talks between representatives of the Sudanese Armed Forces and rival Rapid Support Forces militia after widespread violence broke out between the factions on April 15, threatening to plunge Sudan into civil war.

US officials said they plan to press representatives of the RSF and SAF on steps towards a permanent ceasefire, and are working to build a ceasefire monitoring mechanism informed by satellite imagery and artificial intelligence software to catalogue social media posts.

The State Department’s number-two top official Victoria Nuland told Senate lawmakers on Thursday that the administration may deploy economic sanctions against Sudan’s warring parties if the Jeddah humanitarian agreement is violated.

At least six ceasefires have broken down between the two sides in recent weeks, and US officials on Thursday said they have seen violations by both sides. “We don’t expect that to change,” one official said.

A senior SAF general told Asharq Al Awsat newspaper this week that despite the Jeddah talks, the SAF will not stop fighting until the RSF is driven from Khartoum.

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