| 11 December 2023, Monday |

UN staff member killed in crossfire

A humanitarian worker was killed earlier on Friday in Sudan, with his vehicle hit by crossfire in a town southwest of the capital Khartoum, the UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM) said in a statement.

“I am deeply saddened by the death of our humanitarian colleague, and join his wife and newborn child, and our team in Sudan in mourning,” IOM Director-General Antonio Vitorino said.

The IOM said its 49-year-old worker was traveling with his family near El Obeid, a town southwest of the capital Khartoum, when he was shot.

Four UN employees have died in Sudan since fighting broke out six days ago.

Several countries are either organizing or preparing for potentially airlifting nationals out of Sudan as the conflict continues.

Temporary truce offer from RSF but no response from army

Sudan’s paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) announced they had agreed to a 72-hour humanitarian truce from 6 a.m. local time (0400 GMT) on Friday to coincide with the Muslim holiday Eid al-Fitr.

According to the RSF, the truce was meant to create humanitarian corridors to allow civilians to evacuate and reunite with their loved ones.

There has been no official response from the Sudanese army.

UN cease-fire call
The power struggle between Sudan’s army chief, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and RSF leader General Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, also known as Hemeti, has already claimed 413 lives. The World Health Organization said more than 3,500 people had been wounded.

Early Friday, bombing and artillery shelling rang through the streets of Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, despite behind-the-scenes truce negotiations.

“The army are moving around some residential areas [of the capital Khartoum] …trying to look for any RSF fighters that may be in those areas, to try to either arrest them or neutralize them,” journalist and political analyst Patrick Oyet told DW.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for a cease-fire on Thursday to enable the safe passage of civilians.

A coalition of civil groups had announced that they had put forward a three-day truce proposal to the rival sides and that they had responded favorably. “We welcome the positive position of the leadership of the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF),” the group said.

‘No option but decisive military action’
However, as battles raged, Burhan dismissed any prospects for negotiations with Daglo, telling broadcaster Al Jazeera that he saw no option but “decisive” military action without “any room for talks over politics.”

Daglo said the RSF’s agreement to stop fighting for the Eid holiday did not mean he was willing to talk with Burhan. “We are talking about a humanitarian truce, we are talking about safe passages … we are not talking about sitting down with a criminal,” he said, referring to Burhan.

In his first speech since the outbreak of fighting a week ago, Burhan said in a video message on Friday that the military remained committed to a transition to civilian rule, but he made no mention of a truce.

“We are confident that we will overcome this ordeal with our training, wisdom and strength, preserving the security and unity of the state, allowing us to be entrusted with the safe transition to civilian rule,” he said.

  • Asharq Al-Awsat