What’s the latest in Sudan? Suspended talks, sanctions, fighting

The conflict is creating a humanitarian crisis and continues with no signs of abating in its seventh week.

A man walks while smoke rises above buildings after aerial bombardment in Khartoum North, Sudan
A man walks as smoke rises above buildings after an aerial bombardment in Khartoum North, Sudan [File: Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Reuters]

Sudan’s conflict has continued for a seventh continuous week, where fighting has propelled the nation into an all-out war since fighting between duelling generals from the Sudanese army and its rival paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) broke out on April 15.

The country has plunged into a humanitarian crisis, with more than 1,800 people killed, according to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project, and at least 1.6 million displaced within the country or across its borders, the United Nations has said, with many fleeing to Egypt, Chad and South Sudan.

On the ground, multiple ceasefires have been violated by both parties and Saudi and United States-brokered peace negotiations have now been suspended.

Here’s the latest on the conflict:

US imposes sanctions

On Thursday, the US imposed the first sanctions related to the conflict in Sudan, warning that it will “hold accountable” all those undermining peace in the northeast African country.

The sanctions targeted firms associated with the conflict’s actors, including those controlled by RSF chief Mohamed Hamdan “Hemedti” Dagalo in the United Arab Emirates and the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, as well as two defence firms linked to the Sudanese Armed Forces, led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.

The White House also said it was imposing visa restrictions “against actors who are perpetuating the violence”, but did not identify them.

The sanctions are targeted to affect those companies in a way that would make the warring parties have less ammunition to fight and force them back to the negotiating table, according to Al Jazeera’s Hiba Morgan, who was reporting from Sudan.

Fragile ceasefire and suspended talks

The US and Saudi Arabia suspended ceasefire talks late on Thursday due to repeated violations of multiple ceasefires, the countries said in a joint statement.

The Sudanese army backed out of the talks a day earlier, saying the RSF is not implementing parts of an agreement that had been signed days prior.

The Biden administration has said that it is still coordinating with its mediator counterpart Saudi Arabia, as well as the African Union and other actors in the region, to urge the warring sides to end the conflict.

Fighting continues

In a pattern marking continued violations of ceasefires, residents said heavy artillery fire could be heard in cities in Khartoum state on Thursday, including in northern Omdurman and Khartoum North.

The firing occurred despite a ceasefire that was meant to run until Saturday evening.

“Fighting has […] increased or intensified since the Sudanese army suspended its participation two days ago from the talks,” said Al Jazeera’s Morgan.

More artillery shelling took place in the southern part of the capital, Khartoum, on Thursday, Morgan added, with the Sudanese army trying to take control of a military base there that belongs to the RSF.

Outside Khartoum, the region of Darfur continues to be a hotbed of violence. A regional rights group said this past week alone at least 50 people have been killed in the westernmost city of el-Geneina, which has been experiencing a communications blackout for more than 10 days.


Humanitarian situation

The UN refugee agency said on Thursday that more than 100,000 people have fled violence in Sudan to neighbouring Chad, with that number possibly doubling in the next three months.

Chad, one of the poorest countries in the world, was already hosting about 600,000 refugees before the conflict.

Additionally, aid groups face continued troubles, with the World Food Programme reporting that nearly 17,000 tons (15,400 tonnes) of food aid have been looted since the start of the conflict.

Additionally, a curfew was placed this week on the city of Port Sudan, a key evacuation point, which has also become a base for the UN, aid groups and diplomats.

Residents say buses have been stopped from entering the city.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies