Sudanese paramilitary leader Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo said on Thursday that he was committed to a cease-fire to end the devastating war that has wrecked his country.
As fighting continues and there has been no progress on proposed peace talks between Dagalo and Sudan military chief Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan.
Dagalo, leader of the Rapid Support Forces, said in a statement following a meeting in Pretoria with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa that he had briefed Ramaphosa on the “considerable efforts taken to end this war.”
“I emphasized our unwavering commitment to cease hostilities,” Dagalo said, although he didn’t say if or when he would meet with Burhan. The warring generals agreed last month to a face-to-face meeting and to start talks over a possible cease-fire, according to the East African regional bloc IGAD.
No date or location for the talks have been announced.
During Thursday’s meeting with Dagalo, Ramaphosa said he hoped there would be an “imminent face-to-face dialogue” between Dagalo and Burhan and called for an “immediate cease-fire,” Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Vincent Magwenya, said.
Dagalo is on a tour of African countries. He met with Kenyan President William Ruto on Wednesday following visits to Uganda, Ethiopia and Djibouti.
Tensions between former allies Dagalo and Burhan erupted in all-out war in mid-April in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, and elsewhere across the country.
The fighting has killed more than 12,000 people, according to the United Nations, while doctors and activists say the real death toll is higher. More than 7 million people have been forced to leave their homes.
Despite talk of a cease-fire, the conflict has intensified. Last month, U.N. humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths said more than 500,000 people were forced to flee their homes in Jazeera province that had become a safe haven for civilians after the RSF attacked and took its capital, Wad Medani.
The RSF takeover prompted fears among Wad Medani residents that they would carry out atrocities in their city as they are accused of doing in Khartoum, and the Darfur region in western Sudan.
The U.S. State Department has said that both the RSF and the Sudanese military have committed war crimes or crimes against humanity during the nine-month conflict.
Griffiths, the U.N. undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs, said in a statement Thursday that “the same horrific abuses that have defined this war in other hotspots — Khartoum, Darfur and Kordofan — are now being reported in Wad Medani.
“Given Wad Medani’s significance as a hub for relief operations, the fighting there — and looting of humanitarian warehouses and supplies — is a body blow to our efforts to deliver food, water, health care and other critical aid,” he said.
Griffiths said nearly 25 million people across Sudan will need humanitarian assistance in 2024 “but the bleak reality is that intensifying hostilities are putting most of them beyond our reach.”
Deliveries from Chad to Darfur continue, but efforts to get aid elsewhere are increasingly under threat, he said, and “deliveries across conflict lines have ground to a halt.”
Griffiths said the international community, especially those with influence on the parties, “must take decisive and immediate action to stop the fighting.”