US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says 'actively working' to extend Sudan ceasefire

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says 'actively working' to extend Sudan ceasefire
10 min read
Top US official Antony Blinken, who is the Secretary of State, said he is actively working on prolonging the 72-hour ceasefire put in place in Sudan.
The conflict in Sudan, which has killed over 500 people, has now entered its 13th day [Getty]

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Thursday that the United States was working with Sudan's warring generals to extend an expiring, shaky ceasefire that he helped broker.

Blinken said he expected to say more "in the coming hours" on the situation in Sudan, where the army has renewed air strikes on rival paramilitaries in the capital Khartoum even before the truce expires at midnight (2200 GMT).

"We are very actively working to extend the ceasefire," Blinken told reporters.

"We've had a 72-hour ceasefire, which like most ceasefires is imperfect but nonetheless has reduced violence. And that's obviously created somewhat better conditions for people in Sudan," he said.

Blinken said that the United States was also working to establish a more regular route for the departure of foreigners from Sudan.

Meanwhile, more than 3,500 people have arrived in Ethiopia after fleeing the continuous fighting in Sudan, an official from the UN's International Organization for Migration told AFP.

Many of the arrivals are Turkish nationals, according to the agency.

The United Nations has issued a warning that the violence could force as many as 270,000 people to seek refuge in neighbouring South Sudan and Chad, while others have fled to Egypt and Ethiopia.

"Between April 21 and April 25, more than 3,500 arrivals have been recorded from over 35 nationalities," Eric Mazango, communications officer for the IOM in Ethiopia, told AFP in an email received Thursday.

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The fighting between rival Sudanese troops and paramilitaries has now entered its 13th day, with over 500 people killed, while civilians are suffering from severe shortages of basic needs including water, food and fuel.

Earlier today, the Sudanese army pounded paramilitaries in the capital Khartoum with air strikes while deadly fighting flared in Darfur as the conflict entered a 13th day despite a US-brokered ceasefire.

Late Wednesday, the army said it had agreed to talks in Juba, capital of neighbouring South Sudan, on extending the three-day truce which expires on Friday "at the initiative of IGAD", the East African regional bloc.

There have been multiple truce efforts since fighting broke out on 15 April between Sudan's regular army led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) commanded by his deputy turned rival, Mohamed Hamdan Daglo. All have failed.

The fighting has continued despite the US-brokered ceasefire that took effect on Tuesday, with warplanes patrolling the skies over the capital's northern suburbs as fighters on the ground have exchanged artillery and heavy machine gun fire, witnesses said.

Burhan agreed on Wednesday to the IGAD proposal for talks on extending the truce by a further 72 hours, the army added.

The RSF's response to the proposal remains unclear, according to reports.

At least 512 people have been killed and 4,193 wounded in the fighting, according to health ministry figures, although the real death toll is likely to be much higher.

4:54 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

UK demands Sudan ceasefire extension: PM Sunak's spokesperson

Britain's ambassador in Sudan is speaking to the warring parties in the country to urge them to extend a 72-hour ceasefire that is due to expire tonight, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Thursday.

"The British ambassador continues to speak to the warring parties in Sudan," the spokesperson told reporters.

"As part of that, we are obviously supporting an extension to the ceasefire and are lobbying for that".

The ambassador's remarks come as the UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly urged British nationals to evacuate the country before the ceasefire ends.


A spokesperson for PM Rishi Sunak said that the UK is urging for a Sudan ceasefire [Getty]
4:06 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Canada completes first evacuation flight from Sudan: Defence Ministry

Canada's Defence Minister Anita Anand announced on Thursday the completion of her country's first military flight out of war-torn Sudan, carrying evacuees.

Few details were immediately shared, but Anand told a news conference in Nova Scotia province - home to Canada's Atlantic navy fleet - "a first Canadian evacuation flight from Sudan has taken place using an RCAF (Royal Canadian Air Force) CC-130 Hercules aircraft".

She declared the airlift brought to more than 180 the total number of Canadians who have fled Sudan since fighting erupted between the country's army and a paramilitary force. Dozens previously hitched a ride out of the country aboard allies' flights.

Efforts are ongoing "to ensure the maximum number of Canadians can be evacuated as soon as possible," Anand said, with additional evacuations planned "over the next number of days".

Out of 1,800 Canadians in Sudan registered with Canada's foreign ministry, 700 have requested help leaving the country, according to officials. Most of them reside in the capital Khartoum.

3:58 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

16,000 people, mostly Sudanese, have crossed from Sudan into Egypt

Some 16,000 people have crossed the border from Sudan into Egypt including 14,000 Sudanese citizens, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Thursday, as cited by Reuters.

The number includes 2,000 nationals of 50 other countries or members of international organisations, the ministry said.

More than 500 people have been killed in nearly two weeks of conflict between the Sudanese army and a rival paramilitary force, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), which are locked in a power struggle threatening to destabilise the wider region.


2:06 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Lebanese businessman flees Sudan fighting, returning to ailing Lebanon

Sudan-living Lebanese businessman Ahmad Shams , who sheltered in the hotel he ran in Khartoum from ongoing gunfire and shelling, said the violence scenes brought back flashbacks of the civil war that had shattered Beirut in his youth.

"It's the same picture - there are militias, there are international interests. War is just as intense in Sudan as it was in Lebanon for us," he told Reuters after returning to Beirut.

Shams, 59, who lived in Sudan for 17 years, had set up a hotel and restaurant in a prime location near Khartoum's main airport and ministries. When fighting flared between Sudan's army and a paramilitary force on April 15, those sites became targets.

He fled with his wife, 10-year-old son - even their cat - alongside other Lebanese nationals, but he said they had to rely on evacuation help from the Saudi Arabian authorities not those of his native Lebanon, a nation facing its deepest economic and political crisis since the civil war occurring many decades ago.

"We've returned to a country that's already collapsing. If there had been a choice to go somewhere else, I would not have come to Lebanon," he said.

More than 60 Lebanese have been evacuated so far from Sudan, including some there briefly for business and others who had made Sudan their home.

12:08 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

China evacuates 1,300 nationals, other citizens from Sudan

Chinese navy ships sent to rescue citizens from conflict-hit Sudan have also evacuated nationals from five other countries, the foreign ministry in Beijing said on Thursday.

Multiple nations have scrambled to evacuate embassy staff and citizens by road, air and sea from Sudan, where fighting between the army and paramilitaries has killed hundreds and led to acute shortages of water, food, medicines and fuel.

Rescue operations have intensified since a 72-hour ceasefire took effect on Tuesday.

But some fighting was reported around Sudan on Thursday, as well as air strikes in the capital Khartoum.

"So far, more than 1,300 Chinese citizens have been safely evacuated," foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said.

She added that many had left Sudan on board Chinese naval vessels.

"We have helped citizens of five countries to evacuate Sudan on Chinese ships," Mao stated.

China says it is Sudan's largest trading partner, with more than 130 companies investing there by mid-2022.

The Chinese foreign ministry said on Monday it estimated about 1,500 of its nationals were in Sudan.

"Other countries have also asked for China's assistance in evacuation."

12:02 PM
The New Arab Staff

UK's Africa Minister says that end of ceasefire in Sudan could lead to humanitarian disaster

Andrew Mitchell, the Minister of State for Development in Africa said in statement that the end of US-brokered ceasefire in Sudan could lead to a "humanitarian disaster", while speaking at thinktank Chatham House on Thursday.

He stressed that it is "essential that a ceasefire is maintained and that a political process is secured", while adding that the UK will "continue to work tirelessly to help bring an end to the violence and provide vital humanitarian relief", according to the UK daily The Independent. 

Earlier today, the UK has urged British nationals to evacuate the country - where fighting has entered its 13th day - before the ceasefire comes to an end.

10:44 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

United States, African nations race to prolong Sudan truce


The United States and African nations are racing to secure an extension of a ceasefire in Sudan on Thursday, with the Sudanese army giving an initial nod to an African proposal calling for talks even as fighting continued.

The military said the presidents of South Sudan, Kenya and Djibouti worked on a proposal that includes extending the truce and talks between the two forces.

"Burhan thanked the IGAD and expressed an initial approval to that," the army statement said.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat discussed working together to create a sustainable end to the fighting, the State Department said in a statement on Wednesday.


US Secretary of State Blinken wants to bring an end to the fighting in Sudan [Getty]
10:39 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

China sends navy to evacuate nationals stuck in Sudan

China has deployed its navy to rescue citizens from conflict-hit Sudan, the defence ministry in Beijing said on Thursday

"Recently, the security situation in Sudan has continued to deteriorate," Chinese defence ministry spokesman Tan Kefei said.

The navy was deployed on Wednesday, he added, "in order to protect the lives and property of Chinese people in Sudan". He did not specify the number of vessels involved.

China said on Monday it had safely evacuated an initial group of citizens, estimating about 1,500 of its nationals were in Sudan.

China says it is Sudan's largest trading partner, with more than 130 companies investing there as of mid-2022.

Chinese nationals display the flag upon arrival to Saudi Arabia from Sudan [Getty]
10:29 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies
UK urges nationals to evacuate Sudan

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly urged Britons and their relatives in Sudan to use evacuation flights on Thursday while they are still available, as the end of a temporary ceasefire looms.

London has evacuated 536 people on six flights since launching civilian airlifts late Tuesday, according to the foreign office, with further flights planned throughout Thursday.

Doubts are growing about the ability to continue the operation, after heavy battles occurred on the second full day of a three-day US-brokered truce.

"We cannot predict exactly what will happen when that ceasefire ends but what we do know is it will be much, much harder, potentially impossible," Cleverly told Sky News of continuing the evacuations beyond Thursday.

"So what we're saying to British nationals is if you're hesitant, if you're weighing up your options, our strong advice is to go".

"Whilst the ceasefire is up and running, there are planes, there's capacity, we will lift you out. We are not able to make those same assurances once a ceasefire is ended," he added to the UK broadcaster.

Meanwhile, France has evacuated more people from Sudan, Reuters said on Thursday, citing the French foreign ministry.

The French government added it had so far evacuated a total of 936 people from Sudan.

The UK is urging its nationals to evacuate Sudan before the ceasefire ends [Getty]