Talks between Sudan’s warring factions will resume Thursday in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, with a focus on securing access for humanitarian aid to reach beleaguered civilians, according to senior U.S. State Department officials.
The United States and Saudi Arabia have brokered multiple cease-fires between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) at talks in Jeddah since May, but fighting has continued in Khartoum and elsewhere, with each side accusing the other of cease-fire violations.
The U.S. adjourned the talks on June 21.
“The new round will focus on ensuring unhindered humanitarian access, achieving cease-fires, and other confidence-building measures to create conditions for the safe delivery of humanitarian assistance,” a senior official said.
The official emphasized that Thursday’s talks will not tackle political matters, as both belligerents have been clearly informed that “there is no acceptable military solution to this conflict.”
The SAF and RSF have been fighting each other since April 15, triggering a humanitarian crisis in Sudan and in neighboring countries.
Senior U.S. officials have stated that both sides, by choosing to pursue conflicts that involve indiscriminate artillery and drone strikes causing civilian casualties, have demonstrated their unsuitability for governance in post-conflict Sudan.
Sudan’s neighbors in the Horn of Africa are playing a role in the latest negotiations as the regional bloc IGAD, or Intergovernmental Authority on Development, will facilitate the resumed talks.
IGAD Executive Secretary Workneh Gebeyehu, a former foreign minister of Ethiopia, will take part in the talks for the African Union.
“We’ve been in constant communication with our colleagues from IGAD, as well as the African Union. They are in agreement that relaunching Jeddah is essential,” another senior State Department official told reporters in a phone briefing.
IGAD is one of the regional economic communities recognized by the African Union. It has eight members: Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda.
Sudanese civilians need access to the essentials of life, which include food, shelter, medicine and security, says Alex Rondos, senior adviser for United States Institute of Peace’s Africa Center.
“The toughest and boldest decision for Sudan is whether an external force will be needed to protect supply routes, logistics centers and critical infrastructure,” Rondos wrote in a recent Peace Institute publication.
Sudan has become the largest internal displacement crisis in the world. An estimated 5.6 million people have been displaced within and outside Sudan after more than six months of fighting, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.