May 6th found the warring parties in Sudan sitting down for direct talks in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia with representatives from the United States and Saudi Arabia trying to broker a deal for peace between the two. This coastal city set the landscape for the Sudanese army and Rapid Support Forces (RSF) representatives to actively engage and negotiate a cease-fire.
Given the growing number of broken truces being violated since the conflict first erupted in mid-April, this first multi-nation effort is also the first direct attempt to take peace seriously. The past few years have been rife with unrest and uprisings, but this latest conflict has been far worse and more widespread than anything else to date.
One of the non-combatant forces in the nation is Sudan’s Forces of Freedom and Change, which is a political group fully backing these talks and attempting to push the nation back towards its earlier goal of democracy in the nation. In their efforts to facilitate change in the nation they have given every bit of attention to the cause, and hope that the talks provide a jumping-off point and get the RSF to step up to the plate and put a stop to the conflict.
Among the topics still being left for debate is the security for civilians to get out of the conflict zones. With over 550 killed and 4,900 wounded as of May 8th according to the Sudanese health ministry, the time for getting those who do not wish to fight out of the area is now. Mind you, many of those who are still there are simply stuck without the resources, opportunities, or options to go someplace else.
Hiba Morgan has been in the capital of Khartoum since the start of the conflict for Al Jazeera, and she is hearing that the talks are focused on the safety of civilians and not restoring the peace.
“These are not talks to … try to reach a political or military solution for the differences between the RSF and the Sudanese army. The army has said it’s focused on those who need assistance, and there are plenty of them here in the capital and around the country. Humanitarian organizations have repeatedly stated the issue of safety is what’s preventing them from being able to reach those in need, whether it’s in Khartoum or in neighboring states.”
Military officials are also reporting that the discussion of humanitarian aid, protections to civilian infrastructure including hospitals, and a loss of supplies and medical staff are also a major part of the discussion. With the United Nations removing their support members following the death of three of their workers, the need for medical support is now greater than ever.
This is where the cease-fires should be helping to restore peace for the people of Sudan, but airstrikes keep occurring, with the foreign minister of Turkey finding his car taking fire. While no injuries or casualties were reported in the incident, their embassy was being moved from Khartoum to Port Sudan to maintain their security.
With thousands of Sudanese fleeing to neighboring countries, the UN refugee agency is estimating 860,000 refugees would need new homes, and aid agencies need $445 million to help them get resettled. Fortunately, supplies for those stuck waiting are inbound. The World Health Organization reported 30 tons of medical supplies arriving in Port Sudan via plane around May 5th, and Qatar took 40 tons of food to Sudan on the 6th and took 120 evacuees out as the fighting escalated across the nation.
Nemat Allah Saber Ibrahim is a Sudanese doctor who calls Qatar home and was able to get evacuated back to Qatar. “We still faced many difficulties because of the lack of security in the country due to the security forces being occupied with the battles. We were faced by mobs on the way, but thank God we have arrived safely to the Port of Sudan.”