Sudan begins a cease-fire ahead of a pledging conference to raise funds for humanitarian assistance

Update Sudan’s warring factions have agreed to a new 72-hour cease-fire starting at 6 a.m. local time on Sunday. (AFP/File Photo)
Sudan’s warring factions have agreed to a new 72-hour cease-fire starting at 6 a.m. local time on Sunday. (AFP/File Photo)
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Updated 19 June 2023
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Sudan begins a cease-fire ahead of a pledging conference to raise funds for humanitarian assistance

Sudan begins a cease-fire ahead of a pledging conference to raise funds for humanitarian assistance
  • Kingdom, US: If parties fail to observe truce, postponement of ongoing Jeddah dialogue considered

RIYADH: Sudan’s warring parties have begun a cease-fire on Sunday, announced earlier by mediators Saudi Arabia and the United States in a joint statement, as two months of fighting pushed the African nation into further chaos.

Residents in the capital, Khartoum, and its neighboring city of Omdurman reported “relative calm” in the first hours of the cease-fire Sunday morning, after fierce clashes were reported the previous day.
The three-day truce came ahead of a pledging conference the UN and other nations will organize Monday to raise funds to cover Sudan's humanitarian needs.
The UN says it received less than 16% of the $2.57 billion required to help those in need in Sudan in 2023. Another $470 million more are needed to support refugees in the Horn of Africa region, it said.
The United States and Saudi Arabia, announced the cease-fire agreement Saturday. Both led concerted international diplomatic efforts to stop the war over the past two months.

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and United States of America announce the agreement of representatives of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) on a cease-fire throughout Sudan for a period of 72 hours,” the Saudi foreign ministry statement said late Saturday.

“The parties agreed that during the cease-fire they will refrain from prohibited movements, attacks, use of military aircraft or drones, artillery strikes, reinforcement of positions and resupply of forces, and will refrain from seeking military advantage during the cease-fire,” it added.

The two mediators said should the parties fail to observe the cease-fire, a postponement of ongoing Jeddah dialogue would be considered.

An earlier truce drawn up this month by Saudi Arabia and the US fell through after both sides of the Sudanese clashes accused each other of serious violations of the ceasefire.

Multiple truces have been agreed and broken during the conflict, including after the US issued sanctions on the SAF and RSF leaders following the failure of a previous attempt at the end of May.

On Saturday, air strikes killed civilians and pummeled multiple parts of the Sudanese capital Khartoum, which killed 17 people including five children and destroyed 25 homes.

The fighting capped months of worsening tensions between the rival generals. The conflict turned Khartoum and other urban areas into battlegrounds.

More than 3,000 people lost their lives and over 6,000 others were wounded, according to Health Minister Haitham Mohammed Ibrahim. It forced more than 2.2 million people to flee their homes to safer areas inside Sudan and to neighboring nations.

All of Sudan’s neighbors have their own conflicts and economic problems and the influx of Sudanese refugees adds to the burden. Cash-strapped Egypt has received more than 200,000 Sudanese since the fighting began in mid-April, according to the UN migration agency.

The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, announced Sunday the allocation of 20 million euros (about $22 million) to help the Egyptian government deal with the influx of Sudanese who fled the war and crossed into Egypt.

“I know this is not enough and you are going to pay much more, but at least, let us contribute a little bit in your support,” Borrell told a joint news conference in Cairo with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry.

The cease-fire was the latest in a series of attempted truces brokered by the US and Saudi Arabia, all of which failed to stop the fighting, with the meditators blaming the two warring sides for repeated violations.

The humanitarian situation in the war-ridden country has been worsening. At least 24.7 million people — more than half of the country’s population — need humanitarian assistance. And over 100,000 children are projected to suffer from severe acute malnutrition with medical complications by the end of the year, the World Health Organization warned on Friday.

The UN health agency said it needs $145 million to meet the increasing health needs of those impacted by the conflict inside Sudan and assist those who fled to neighboring countries.

“The scale of this health crisis is unprecedented,” Ahmed Al-Mandhari, WHO regional director for the Eastern Mediterranean. He added that funds are urgently needed to avert a looming collapse of Sudan’s health care system.

The conflict has wrecked the country’s infrastructure. It also left about 60 percent of health facilities across the country nonfunctional, amid a drastic decrease in medical supplies, which were either destroyed or looted, according to the WHO.

The UN agency said it confirmed at least 46 attacks on health facilities between April 15 and June 8.

(With AP)


Cyprus says maritime aid shipments to Gaza ‘on track’

Updated 8 sec ago
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Cyprus says maritime aid shipments to Gaza ‘on track’

Cyprus says maritime aid shipments to Gaza ‘on track’
1,000 tons of aid were shipped from Cyprus to the besieged Palestinian territory between Friday and Sunday
The vessels were shuttling between Gaza and the east Mediterranean island

NICOSIA: Four ships from the United States and France are transporting aid from Larnaca port to the Gaza Strip amid the spiralling humanitarian crisis there, the Cyprus presidency said on Tuesday.
Victor Papadopoulos from the presidential press office told state radio 1,000 tons of aid were shipped from Cyprus to the besieged Palestinian territory between Friday and Sunday.
He said the vessels were shuttling between Gaza and the east Mediterranean island, a distance of about 360 kilometers (225 miles).
Large quantities of aid from Britain, Romania, the United Arab Emirates, the United States and other countries have accumulated at Larnaca port.
Cyprus President Nikos Christodoulides told reporters on Tuesday the maritime aid effort was “on track.”
“We have substantial assistance from third countries that want to contribute to this effort,” he said.
The aid shipped from Cyprus is entering Gaza via a temporary US-built floating pier, where the shipments are offloaded for distribution.
The United Nations has warned of famine as Gaza’s 2.4 million people face shortages of food, safe water, medicines and fuel amid the Israel-Hamas war that has devastated the coastal territory.
Aid deliveries by truck have slowed to a trickle since Israeli forces took control of the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing with Egypt in early May.
The war in Gaza broke out after Hamas’s unprecedented attack on Israel on October 7, which resulted in the deaths of more than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.
Two days after the war broke out, Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant ordered a “complete siege” on the Gaza Strip.
Israel’s retaliatory offensive against Hamas has killed at least 35,647 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to figures provided by the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry.

Daesh attack in Syria kills three soldiers: war monitor

Daesh attack in Syria kills three soldiers: war monitor
Updated 21 May 2024
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Daesh attack in Syria kills three soldiers: war monitor

Daesh attack in Syria kills three soldiers: war monitor
  • The militants “attacked a site where... regime forces were stationed“
  • The Syrian army had sent forces to the area, where Daesh attacks are common

BEIRUT: Daesh group militants killed three Syrian soldiers in an attack Tuesday on an army position in the Badia desert, a war monitor said.
The militants “attacked a site where... regime forces were stationed,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, adding that a lieutenant colonel and two soldiers died.
The Syrian army had sent forces to the area, where Daesh attacks are common, ahead of an expected wider sweep, said the Britain-based Observatory which has a network of sources inside the country.
In an attack on May 3, Daesh fighters killed at least 15 Syrian pro-government fighters when they targeted three military positions in the desert, the Observatory had reported.
Daesh overran large swathes of Syria and Iraq in 2014, proclaiming a so-called caliphate and launching a reign of terror.
It was defeated territorially in Syria in 2019, but its remnants still carry out deadly attacks, particularly against pro-government forces and Kurdish-led fighters in Badia desert.
Syria’s war has claimed more than half a million lives and displaced millions more since it erupted in March 2011 with Damascus’s brutal repression of anti-government protests.


At least 9 Egyptian women and children die when vehicle slides off ferry and plunges into Nile River

At least 9 Egyptian women and children die when vehicle slides off ferry and plunges into Nile River
Updated 21 May 2024
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At least 9 Egyptian women and children die when vehicle slides off ferry and plunges into Nile River

At least 9 Egyptian women and children die when vehicle slides off ferry and plunges into Nile River
  • The accident, which happened in Monshat el-Kanater town in Giza province, also injured nine other passengers

CAIRO: At least nine Egyptian women and children died Tuesday when a small bus carrying about two dozen people slid off a ferry and plunged into the Nile River just outside Cairo, health authorities said.
The accident, which happened in Monshat el-Kanater town in Giza province, injured nine other passengers, the Health Ministry said in a statement. Giza is one of three provinces forming Greater Cairo.
Six of the injured were treated at the site while three others were transferred to hospitals. The ministry didn’t elaborate on their injuries.
A list of the nine dead obtained by The Associated Press showed four were minors.
Giza provincial Gov. Ahmed Rashed said the bus was retrieved from the river and rescue efforts were still underway as of midday Tuesday.
The cause of the accident was not immediately clear.
According to the state-owned Akhbar daily, about two dozen passengers, mostly women, were in the vehicle heading to work when the accident occurred. It said security forces detained the vehicle driver.
Ferry, railway and road accidents are common in Egypt, mainly because of poor maintenance and lack of regulations. In February, a ferry carrying day laborers sank in the Nile in Giza, killing at least 10 of the 15 people on board.


Syrian first lady Asma Assad has leukemia, presidency says

Syrian first lady Asma Assad has leukemia, presidency says
Updated 21 May 2024
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Syrian first lady Asma Assad has leukemia, presidency says

Syrian first lady Asma Assad has leukemia, presidency says
  • Statement stated that Asma would undergo a special treatment protocol that would require her to isolate

DUBAI: Syria’s first lady, Asma Assad, has been diagnosed with leukemia, the Syrian presidency said on Tuesday, almost five years after she announced she had fully recovered from breast cancer.
The statement said Asma, 48, would undergo a special treatment protocol that would require her to isolate, and that she would step away from public engagements as a result.
In August 2019, Asma said she had fully recovered from breast cancer that she said had been discovered early.
Since Syria plunged into war in 2011, the British-born former investment banker has taken on the public role of leading charity efforts and meeting families of killed soldiers, but has also become hated by the opposition.
She runs the Syria Trust for Development, a large NGO that acts as an umbrella organization for many of the aid and development operations in Syria.
Last year, she accompanied her husband, President Bashar Assad ,on a visit to the United Arab Emirates, her first known official trip abroad with him since 2011. She met Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, the Emirati president’s mother, during a trip seen as a public signal of her growing role in public affairs.


Yemen’s Houthis say they downed US drone over Al-Bayda province

Yemen’s Houthis say they downed US drone over Al-Bayda province
Updated 21 May 2024
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Yemen’s Houthis say they downed US drone over Al-Bayda province

Yemen’s Houthis say they downed US drone over Al-Bayda province
  • The Houthis said last Friday they downed another US MQ9 drone over the southeastern province of Maareb

DUBAI: Yemen’s Houthis downed a US MQ9 drone over Al-Bayda province in southern Yemen, the Iran-aligned group’s military spokesperson said in a televised statement on Tuesday.

Yahya Saree said the drone was targeted with a locally made surface-to-air missile and that videos to support the claim would be released.

The Houthis said last Friday they downed another US MQ9 drone over the southeastern province of Maareb.

The group, which controls Yemen’s capital and most populous areas of the Arabian Peninsula state, has attacked international shipping in the Red Sea since November in solidarity with the Palestinians in the war between Israel and Hamas militants, drawing US and British retaliatory strikes since February.