RIYADH/JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia and the US have announced on Monday a five-day extension of a truce agreed between Sudan’s warring sides, the Saudi Press agency reported, as the UN warned a million could flee the country by October.
Mediators said the truce between Sudan’s army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces aims to allow humanitarian activities to continue.
Originally signed on May 20 and due to expire on Monday, the ceasefire has not been perfectly observed, with low intensity fighting continuing in the capital Khartoum and elsewhere.
On Sunday, mediators criticized the repeated violations of the truce by both sides, warning hostilities posed a threat to humanitarian work.
Meanwhile, the UN said that more than a million refugees will flee Sudan by October. More than 350,000 have already fled across Sudan’s borders since the war erupted on April 15. Most have gone to Egypt, Chad and South Sudan and an additional one million have been displaced inside Sudan.
The UNHCR had predicted that about 800,000 Sudanese and 200,000 people of other nationalities would flee Sudan over six months, but the refugee agency’s head Filippo Grandi said on Monday that was an underestimate.
“This projection … may be conservative,” he said. “At the beginning I didn’t believe it would be, but now I’m beginning to be worried.”
The collapse of law and order in Sudan and “a lot of people desperate to move on” would provide fertile ground for human trafficking, and weapons moving across borders could create more violence, Grandi said.“We’ve seen it in Libya with the Sahel. We don’t want a repeat of that because it would be a multiplier of crisis and of humanitarian problems.
Thousands of families continue to shelter at home, rationing water and electricity while trying desperately to avoid stray gunfire.
The persistent fighting has impeded the delivery of essential humanitarian aid, which 25 million people — over half the population — now rely on to survive.
In Darfur, on the western border with Chad, combatants “blatantly disregarded ceasefire commitments,” theUN refugee agency said. Civilians were killed, homes were looted and tens of thousands of people were displaced, a spokesman said.
In East Darfur state, more than 30 infants have died in a single hospital since fighting began, including “six newborn babies who died in one week alone due to problems including lack of oxygen amid electricity blackouts,” the World Health Organization said.
Since the fighting began on April 15, at least 1,800 people have been killed.