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Sudanese army calls on former soldiers to re-engage as fighting continues thanks to ceasefire | Sudan

The Sudanese army has asked the United Nations to change its envoy to the country, as it calls on reservists and retired soldiers to re-enlist amid the ongoing conflict with a rival paramilitary force.

Friday’s call for former soldiers to report to their nearest military base comes days after an uneasy truce between the army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

Sporadic fighting has continued throughout the internationally-backed truce, but ceasefire monitors – Saudi Arabia and the United States – said on Friday compliance was improving.

An army spokesman said enlistment would be voluntary. However, the current Sudanese Armed Forces Act stipulates that retired soldiers remain reservists, eligible for compulsory re-enlistment. This does not include those who have only completed the mandatory two-year military service in Sudan.

On Friday, army chief Abdel-Fatteh al-Burhan wrote to US Secretary General António Guterres asking him to replace his envoy Volker Perthes, sources in the Sudanese presidency said.

Perthes, who was appointed in 2021, had pushed for a political transition to civilian rule that some members of the military opposed.

“The secretary-general is shocked by the letter,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Friday. “The Secretary General is proud of the work done by Volker Perthes and reaffirms his full confidence in his Special Representative.”

Volker Perthes, the UN envoy for Sudan, at UN headquarters in New York.
Volker Perthes, the UN envoy for Sudan, at UN headquarters in New York. Photography: Alessandro Della Valle/EPA

The army and the RSF began a seven-day truce on Monday to allow access to aid and services. The conflict, which began in mid-April, has reportedly claimed hundreds of lives and created a refugee crisis.

Despite a slowdown in fighting, clashes, artillery fire and airstrikes were reported throughout the week.

Khartoum residents who have remained in the city suffer from regular blackouts in electricity, water, health and communication services. Many homes, especially in wealthy neighborhoods, were looted, along with food stores, flour mills and other essential facilities.

Around 1.3 million people are believed to have fled their homes, either across borders or within the country. The Department of Health said at least 730 people have died, although the true figure is likely to be much higher.

With half of Sudan’s roughly 49 million people in need of aid, the US Agency for International Development said grain meant to feed 2 million people for a month was being sent by boat.

However, it is unclear how this and other aid will reach the Sudanese people without security guarantees and bureaucratic approvals.

“We are in a race against time to reach millions of people before the rainy season arrives in June,” said Eltahir Imam, Islamic Relief program manager.


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