Egypt is taking steps to facilitate mediation between the conflicting factions in Sudan. As part of these efforts, they hosted a regional summit on Thursday. This initiative is part of a broader international endeavor aimed at averting the onset of a civil war and addressing the worsening humanitarian situation in Sudan.
Fighting between Sudan’s army and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces broke out in the capital Khartoum in April, and has spread westward to the fragile Darfur and Kordofan regions.
More than 1,000 civilians have been killed and 3 million people have been displaced, according to the United Nations, which warns of a growing hunger crisis.
The United States and Saudi Arabia had negotiated a series of cease-fires, but suspended talks after violations. Earlier this week, Ethiopia hosted a regional East African summit, but the army boycotted, claiming Kenya, the lead sponsor, was biased.
Egypt, which has historically close ties with the Sudanese army, invited Sudan’s neighbors to the Thursday summit.
The aims of the summit are to stave off foreign interference and influence in the fighting, two Egyptian security sources said, and to ultimately launch a process to achieve a peaceful agreement to stop the fighting.
That plan aims to achieve a three-month cease-fire and open aid pathways amid a series of meetings with military and tribal leaders, the sources said.
Previous one-day and multi-day cease-fires were quickly violated, and were described by the UN special envoy Volker Perthes as an opportunity for the forces to re-position.
Speaking on Wednesday, he described mediation attempts as “emergency diplomacy.”
“The two warring parties still think they can win the war so they accept diplomatic initiatives when they think it can help their aims,” he said.
Among the African leaders attending is Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed, whose country has clashed with Egypt over its construction of a giant dam on the Blue Nile.
He met Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi on Wednesday, after last week saying the fourth filling of the dam this summer would be delayed and would ensure Sudan and Egypt would receive enough water, a conciliatory move after years of tension.