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Sudan belligerents sign commitment to protect civilians

People carrying their belongings walk along a street in Khartoum on April 16, 2023, as fighting between the forces of two rival generals continues   -  
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The warring parties in Sudan signed an agreement in Saudi Arabia on Thursday night to clear corridors for trapped civilians to leave the fighting zones while allowing humanitarian aid to enter.

This declaration of principle is contained in a four-page document, a copy of which was made available to AFP, which contains no mention of a truce or ceasefire, after nearly a month of fighting that has left more than 750 dead, 5,000 wounded and more than 900,000 displaced and refugees.

At the end of six days of negotiations, emissaries from the army of General Abdel Fattah al-Burhane and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) of General Mohamed Hamdane Daglo signed the "Jeddah Declaration for the Protection of Civilians in Sudan".

The two sides have been accusing each other since April 15 of killing civilians: the army claims that the RSF, whose bases are scattered in densely populated areas of Khartoum, use them as "human shields" and the RSF denounce the army's air raids on the capital of more than five million inhabitants.

Many truces violated

But in Jeddah on Thursday night, they agreed to "create safe passages for civilians to leave the fighting zones in the direction of their choice.

They also pledged to "quickly allow and facilitate the passage of humanitarian aid" as well as "the passage of humanitarians into and within the country".

At least 18 aid workers have been killed so far while trying to help a traumatized population.

For the past four weeks, millions of Sudanese, mainly in Khartoum and Darfur in western Chad, have been barricaded in their homes, surviving in sweltering heat without running water or electricity for fear of going outside and being mowed down by a stray bullet.

Food and money are running out everywhere, and the United Nations is warning of soaring hunger, a scourge that has long plagued Sudan.

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