Leaders from around the world have urged Sudan’s warring factions to observe a ceasefire during Eid al-Fitr, which begins on Friday. The Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a paramilitary group in Sudan, has announced that it will begin a ceasefire despite ongoing heavy fighting with the army in the capital city of Khartoum. The RSF has stated that it will observe a 72-hour ceasefire, which will come into effect at 6am on Friday, coinciding with the start of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr. The ceasefire will allow for humanitarian corridors to be opened to evacuate citizens and give them the opportunity to greet their families.
However, Khartoum was rocked by heavy shelling in the early hours of Friday, with the RSF accusing the army of staging a “sweeping attack” on the capital. An Al Jazeera correspondent in the north of the city reported an exchange of fire between the RSF and the army just a few minutes before the paramilitary’s truce was supposed to start. There has been no word from the army on whether it will observe a ceasefire.
The violent power struggle between the army under General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and the RSF, led by General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, began last weekend. The two men were previously in an alliance as leaders of Sudan’s ruling military government. There have been several failed ceasefires since the conflict began. At least 350 people have been killed in the fighting so far.
Thousands of civilians have fled Khartoum due to the fighting, with many others attempting to leave. Large numbers of people have also crossed into Chad to escape fighting in the western region of Darfur. The United Nations refugee agency has stated that the “vast majority” of those who have crossed the border into Chad are women and children who fled with nothing. The violence in Sudan has created a “pretty significant displacement crisis” since there were already over one million refugees in Sudan before the army and RSF began fighting.
International leaders, including United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, have called for the warring factions to observe a three-day truce over Eid and allow civilians to reach safety. The situation in Sudan remains tense, with the ceasefire announcement from the RSF coming amidst ongoing fighting and uncertainty about whether the army will observe the truce.