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Analysts Fear 'Knock-On Effects' of Sudan Conflict Despite Cease-Fire

People flee from southern Khartoum on April 18, 2023 as fighting between the army and paramilitary forces led by rival generals rages for a fourth day, despite growing international calls for an end to hostilities.
People flee from southern Khartoum on April 18, 2023 as fighting between the army and paramilitary forces led by rival generals rages for a fourth day, despite growing international calls for an end to hostilities.

WASHINGTON — Analysts have welcomed Sudan's 24-hour ceasefire announced Tuesday but say the "knock-on effects" of the four day conflict continue to pound civilians as the World Health Organization laments that the country’s health system is near collapse.

On Tuesday, the two Sudanese rival military commanders agreed to a 24-hour truce following pressure by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken after shots were fired at U.S. diplomatic envoys, who the top U.S. diplomat said were safe.

The agreed suspension of hostilities was quickly disrupted as new gunfire was reported in Khartoum after the ceasefire began at 6:00pm (1600GMT).

A member of Sudan’s ruling military council, Army Gen. Shams El Din Kabbashi, had earlier told a local station, al Arabiya TV, that a cease-fire would not go beyond the initially agreed 24 hours.

Michael Jones, research fellow in terrorism and conflict at the London-based Royal United Services Institute, RUSI, told VOA that while the 24-hour truce is welcoming, sustainability of the agreement remains to be determined.

"It's obviously good news and hopefully, it alleviates some of the civilian suffering and displacement that's been ongoing across the country, not least in Khartoum, but elsewhere as well," he said.

But Jones questioned the wider approach to resolve the simmering tensions for the Sudanese people in the longer term, including what he described as the "wider systemic and structural issues" that led to the outbreak of breakdown of law and order these past few days.

"How do we go about addressing the ongoing challenges that many Sudanese activists, members of resistance committees and so on, continue to push forward in relation to good governance, civilian accountability over the security services, civilian control over the political economy, and a durable transition to civilian government going forward?" he queried.

The RUSI analyst also said that with Khartoum's airport still closed to commercial flights, there'll be "significant disruption to humanitarian supply lines."

"And that has a knock on effect on an existing precarious situation where droughts across the Horn of Africa generally has been a significant issue. Risk of famine across Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, and elsewhere continues to be an ongoing problem. This will only exacerbate civilian suffering," Jones said.

But he was also quick to add that "despite all of the suffering, they [the Sudanese people] continue to persevere and push for change."

David Otto Endeley, executive director of Geneva-based Center for African Security and Strategic Studies told VOA that although neighboring countries like South Sudan have expressed willingness to act as mediators, the regional implications "doesn’t look good."

"South Sudan is still not very stable. For the East African Community (regional bloc) it doesn't look really good," he said.

Endeley also said with life at a standstill for many Sudanese civilians, their predicament could be heightened as the world is already dealing with another war – Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

"Sudan’s Darfur region has been suffering from humanitarian crisis and this current development is certainly going to add to that," he said.

The United Nations' food agency, World Food Program, the International Rescue Committee and World Vision all temporarily suspended operations in Sudan since the fighting began over the weekend.

WFP reported three of its staff had been killed Saturday in North Darfur.

Sudan’s conflict has claimed the lives of 185 people with the U.N. describing it as "a catastrophic humanitarian crisis," saying the country’s health system is near collapse.

"I want to be very clear: All parties must ensure unrestricted and safe access to health facilities for those injured and everyone in need of medical care," WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Tuesday.

Some information in this report was sourced from Reuters.