International community calls for ceasefire as fighting erupts in Sudan

UN 'strongly condemns' violence while countries request for end to hostilities in Khartoum

Fierce clashes between Sudan’s military and the powerful paramilitary Rapid Support Forces erupted in the capital and elsewhere after weeks of escalating tension. AP
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The international community on Saturday called for an end to deadly violence in Sudan, where battles erupted between the nation's army and the Rapid Support Forces paramilitary group in the capital Khartoum.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres “strongly condemns the outbreak of fighting”, his representative said.

He called on the RSF and Sudanese Armed Forces to “immediately cease hostilities, restore calm and initiate a dialogue to resolve the current crisis”, the representative added.

Mr Guterres' spokesperson later said the UN chief had spoken with the leaders of Sudan's army, the RSF, in addition to the African Union and Egypt.

Saudi and United Arab Emirates foreign ministers held a joint call with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the developing situation.

Earlier, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a post on Twitter that he was “deeply concerned” about the violence.

“We urge all actors to stop the violence immediately and avoid further escalations or troop mobilisation and continue talks to resolve outstanding issues,” he said.

The UAE had already called on all parties to de-escalate in order to return to discussions for peace and government building, Wam reported.

“The UAE Embassy in Khartoum is following with great concern the developments in Sudan and has reaffirmed the UAE’s position on the importance of de-escalation, and working towards finding a peaceful solution to the crisis between the concerned parties,” its statement said.

“Furthermore, the embassy stresses the importance of efforts aimed at supporting the political process and achieving national consensus towards the formation of a government.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry called for a “ceasefire immediately” in Sudan, the Moscow-affiliated Tass news agency reported.

“We are calling on the conflicting sides to show political will and restraint and to take steps towards a ceasefire immediately,” it said.

Saturday's violence was seen as some of the fiercest fighting since a 2021 military takeover and attempts to restore the country's democratic transition.

Recently, there have been continuing issues over the integration of the RSF into the nation's armed forces as part of the transition.

There were reports on Saturday of tanks and rocket launchers being used in Khartoum, a city of five million people, after the RSF said it seized key sites in Khartoum including the airport ― as the military disputed the claims.

The Sudan Doctors' Union reported to Reuters that at least 25 people have been killed, along with 183 injured.

US ambassador to Sudan John Godfrey tweeted from the American embassy in the capital, while sheltering from the fierce fighting outside.

“I just arrived late last night in Khartoum and woke up to the deeply disturbing sounds of gunfire and fighting,” he said.

“I am currently sheltering in place with the Embassy team, as Sudanese through Khartoum and elsewhere are doing.”

He called for “senior military leaders to stop the fighting”.

Regional bodies including the African Union and Arab League expressed alarm over the violence.

The chairperson of the African Union, Moussa Faki Mahamat, called for a ceasefire.

He urged involved parties to “immediately stop the destruction of the country, the terrorisation of its population, and the bloodshed in the last ten days of the holy month of Ramadan”.

Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit voiced concern and emphasised the need to ensure the safety of Sudanese civilians, the UAE's Wam news agency reported. He also called for an end to the deadly violence.

UN human rights chief Volker Turk said that people in Sudan “deserve better” and UN emergency relief co-ordinator Martin Griffiths said “more violence will only make things worse”.

Nearby countries called for calm, including Sudan's neighbour to the north, Egypt.

Chad closed its border with Sudan along with its request for “a return to peace”.

Updated: April 18, 2023, 8:49 AM