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


 Sudan’s warring parties began a cease-fire Sunday morning after two months of fighting pushed the African nation into chaos, the Associated Press reported today.

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 United Nations (UN) and other nations will organise Monday to raise funds to cover Sudan’s humanitarian needs.

The UN said it received less than 16 percent of the US$2.57 billion required to help those in need in Sudan in 2023, with US$470 million more needed to support refugees in the Horn of Africa region.

The United States and Saudi Arabia announced the cease-fire agreement Saturday. Both led concerted diplomatic efforts to stop the war over the past two months.

The U.S. and Saudi Arabia said in a joint statement that the military and its rival paramilitary group, the Rapid Support Forces, agreed to halt fighting and “refrain from seeking military advantage during the ceasefire".

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 Organisation warned on Friday.

The UN health agency said it needs US$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 healthcare 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.