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Ceasefire deal holds in Sudan after two months of fighting

Sudan’s warring parties have begun a ceasefire, as two months of fighting pushes the African nation into further chaos.

Residents in the capital, Khartoum, and its neighbouring city of Omdurman reported “relative calm” in the first hours of the ceasefire on Sunday morning, after fierce clashes were reported the previous day.

The three-day truce came ahead of a pledging conference the UN and other nations will organise on Monday to raise funds to cover Sudan’s humanitarian needs.

The UN says it received less than 16 per cent of the $US2.57 billion ($3.74 billion) required to help those in need in Sudan in 2023.

Another $US470 million ($684 million) was needed to support refugees in the Horn of Africa region, it said.

The United States and Saudi Arabia announced the ceasefire agreement on Saturday. Both led concerted diplomatic efforts to stop the war over the past two months.

The US and Saudi Arabia said in a joint statement that the military and its rival paramilitary group, the Rapid Support Forces, agreed to halt fighting and “refrain from seeking military advantage during the ceasefire”.

Sudan plunged into chaos after months of worsening tensions between the rival generals exploded into open fighting, in mid-April, across the country with the capital, Khartoum and the western Darfur region bearing the brunt of the armed conflict.

The fighting turned Khartoum and other urban areas into battlegrounds.

More than 3000 people were killed and over 6000 others were wounded, according to Health Minister Haitham Mohammed Ibrahim.

It forced more than 2.2 million people to flee their homes to safer areas inside Sudan and to neighbouring nations.

The ceasefire was the latest in a series of attempted truces, brokered by the US and Saudi Arabia, all of which failed to stop fighting, with the meditators blaming the two warring sides for repeated violations.

The humanitarian situation in the war-ridden country has been worsening.

At least 24.7 million people – more than half of the country’s population – need humanitarian assistance.

And over 100,000 children are projected to suffer from severe acute malnutrition with medical complications by the end of the year, the World Health Organization warned on Friday.

The UN health agency said it needs $US145m to meet the increasing health needs of those impacted by the conflict inside Sudan and assist those who fled to neighbouring countries.

“The scale of this health crisis is unprecedented,” Ahmed Al-Mandhari, WHO regional director for the Eastern Mediterranean. He added that funds are urgently needed to avert a looming collapse of Sudan’s healthcare system.

The conflict has wrecked the country’s infrastructure.

It also left about 60 per cent of health facilities across the country non-functional, amid a drastic decrease in medical supplies, which were either destroyed or looted, the WHO says.

The UN agency said it confirmed at least 46 attacks on health facilities between April 15 and June 8.

-AP

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