The warring Sudanese parties have signed an agreement intended to lay the groundwork for humanitarian assistance to resume in Sudan, senior US State Department officials said Thursday.
The agreement signed in Jeddah by representatives from the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) is not a ceasefire, but rather “a declaration of commitment to protect the civilians of Sudan.”
The purpose of the declaration “is to guide the conduct of the two forces so that we can get in humanitarian assistance, help begin the restoration of essential services like electricity and water, to arrange for the withdrawal of security forces from hospitals and clinics, and to perform the respectful burial of the dead,” one of the officials explained.
The next step will be to negotiate a ceasefire which would allow those actions to take place, the official told reporters, and talks on that could begin as early as Friday.
“We will move as fast as we can with the parties to get to actual actions. We’ve already made specific recommendations to each side to take actions and some of that is happening,” the official told reporters on a call, CNN reported.
A ceasefire monitoring mechanism has been developed to “help hold the parties accountable to what they’ve agreed to do,” the official said.
The declaration, the name of which was “requested by the parties to emphasize that they’re interested in trying to help the civilians who are suffering from this fighting,” was signed following days of “pre-negotiation talks” which have been mediated by the United States and Saudi Arabia.
Those talks began this weekend in Jeddah, weeks after the outbreak of fighting in Sudan that has left hundreds dead and thousands injured, caused tens of thousands to flee their homes and left the country on the brink of civil war and a massive humanitarian catastrophe.
A second senior State Department official said that it took longer than expected to get an agreement on the declaration, and “the negotiations were very tough,” particularly given “the depth of enmity” between the RSF and the SAF.
The first official said that the SAF and RSF negotiators “with the support of the Saudi and American mediators,” will now “begin to negotiate an actual short term ceasefire.”
The goal is to reach a ceasefire of up to 10 days, they said, “but we’ll have to see what’s possible to facilitate those activities.”