UN envoy says fighting groups of Sudan ready for talks


CAIRO (AP) Sudan’s wartime generals have likely agreed to send representatives to Saudi Arabia, a senior UN official in the country.

Once the talks are finalized, the initial focus will be on establishing a “stable and credible” ceasefire, which will be monitored by national and international observers, Volker Perthes told The Associated Press, warned that there are still challenges in carrying out the negotiations.

A series of temporary ceasefires last week have eased fighting only in some areas, but heavy fighting continues in others, driving civilians from their homes and pushing the country into further disaster. 

Humanitarian organizations have tried to restore aid flows to a country where almost a third of its 46 million people were already dependent on international aid before the violence erupted. The UN food agency said Monday it was ending a moratorium on its operations in Sudan after three of its team members died prematurely in fighting in the conflict-torn Darfur region.

The World Food Program will resume food distribution in his four states of Kadareff, Gezira, Kassala and the White Nile and will operate where security permits, Executive Director Cindy McCain said. The number of people in need of assistance “will increase significantly as the fighting progresses,” she said. “The fighting must stop to protect the humanitarian workers and the people of Sudan who are in need.”

The day before, the International Committee of the Red Cross flew a plane loaded with medical supplies to deliver aid to hospitals overwhelmed by chaos.

US conducted first evacuation of US civilians from Sudan. A group of Americans, guarded by US military drones, made a perilous journey down the Channel from Khartoum to the Red Sea city of Port Sudan. On Monday, a US Navy rapid transport vessel carried 308 displaced people from Port Sudan to the Saudi port of Jeddah, according to Saudi officials.

A direct deal would mark the first major sign of progress since fighting broke out on April 15 between the military and rival paramilitary group Rapid Support Forces. For much of the conflict, Army Chief Abdel Fattah Barhan and his RSF commander General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo appeared determined to fight to the end. Their power struggle has plunged millions of Sudanese into the midst of gunfights, shelling and airstrikes. Tens of thousands have fled Khartoum and other cities, and more than two-thirds of his hospitals in areas where fighting has escalated are out of order as militants loot supplies.

At least 436 civilians have been killed and more than 1,200 wounded since the fighting began, according to the latest figures from the Doctors Syndicate, which tracks civilian casualties. The Sudanese Ministry of Health said he counted at least 530 dead, including civilians and combatants, and 4,500 wounded until a week ago, but the numbers have not been updated since.

Explosions and shootings rang out in parts of Khartoum and the nearby city of Omdurman on Monday, hours after both sides pledged to extend the ceasefire for 72 hours, locals said. Atiyah Abdallah Atiyah, general secretary of the Medical Syndicate, said fighting was raging in various areas of Khartoum, including the military headquarters, the Republic Palace and the international airport. There have also been clashes in the posh Cafoli district, he said.

Many hospitals in the capital remained out of order or inaccessible due to fighting, while others were occupied by warring factions, particularly his RSF, he said.

The United States and Saudi Arabia have put international pressure on their generals to stop fighting and start deeper negotiations to resolve the crisis.