The army signed Sudanese and Rapid Support Forces Yesterday night, they announced a declaration pledging to respect the rules that allow the provision of humanitarian aid, without reaching a ceasefire agreement yet.
According to Agence France-Presse, representatives of the army led by Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and the Rapid Support Forces led by Muhammad Hamdan Daglo, known as Hamidti, reached this declaration after about a month of fighting that resulted in the killing of more than 750 people and the displacement of thousands, within the framework of “preliminary talks” with the participation of the United States. And the United Nations began last Saturday in the Saudi city of Jeddah.
“We affirm our commitment to ensuring the protection of civilians at all times, and this includes allowing safe passage for civilians to leave areas of active hostilities on a voluntary basis in the direction of their choice,” the declaration said.“.
The Jeddah Declaration stipulated the following:
Aware of the need to alleviate the suffering of our people resulting from the fighting in Sudan since (the fifteenth of April 2023), especially in the capital, Khartoum, and to meet the requirements of the current humanitarian situation that civilians are going through.
And in response to the appeals of brotherly and friendly countries through their many initiatives, on top of which is the Saudi-American initiative.
We, the undersigned, the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces, affirm through this declaration our basic obligations under international humanitarian law to facilitate humanitarian action to meet the needs of civilians..
We affirm our firm commitment to the sovereignty of Sudan and the preservation of its unity and territorial integrity.
We realize that adhering to the Declaration will not affect any legal, security or political situation of the signatory parties, nor will it be associated with engaging in any political process..
We welcome the efforts of the Friends of Sudan, who use their relations and good offices to ensure respect for international humanitarian law and international human rights law, including adherence to the Declaration and its immediate implementation..
None of the points below supersede any obligations or principles under international humanitarian law and international human rights law that apply to this armed conflict and in particular Additional Protocol II of 1977
It is annexed to the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 which all parties must comply with.
1– We agree that the interests and safety of the Sudanese people are our primary priorities and affirm our commitment to ensuring the protection of civilians at all times, including by allowing safe passage for civilians to leave areas of active hostilities on a voluntary basis in the direction of their choice.
2– We affirm our responsibility to respect international humanitarian law and international human rights law, including the following:
A- Distinguish at all times between civilians and combatants and between civilian objects and military objectives.
b. Refrain from any attack likely to cause incidental civilian harm which would be excessive in comparison to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated..
C- Take all possible precautions to avoid and minimize harm to civilians, with the aim of evacuating civilian centers, including civilian dwellings. For example, civilians should not be used as human shields..
D- Ensure that checkpoints are not used in violation of the principle of freedom of movement for civilians and humanitarian actors.
E. Allow all civilians to voluntarily and safely leave areas of hostilities and any besieged areas.
f. Obligation to protect the needs and necessities indispensable to the survival of the civilian population, which can include foodstuffs, agricultural areas, crops, and livestock. Looting, looting and destruction are also prohibited.
G- Commitment to evacuation, refrain from possession, respect and protect all private and public facilities such as medical facilities, hospitals, and water and electricity facilities, and refrain from using them for military purposes..
h- Obligation to respect and protect medical transportation such as ambulances, and to refrain from using them for military purposes.
I – Obligation to respect and protect medical workers and public facilities.
J – Respect and not infringe on the right of civilians to pass and travel by roads and bridges inside and outside Khartoum state.
K – Take all possible measures to collect and evacuate the wounded and sick, including combatants – without discrimination – and allow humanitarian organizations to do so, and not to impede medical evacuations, including during active hostilities.
L – Refrain from recruiting and using children in hostilities.
M – Refrain from engaging in enforced disappearances and arbitrary detention of civilians.
n- Refrain from any form of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, including sexual violence of all kinds.
O – Treating all persons deprived of their liberty in a humane manner and giving the main humanitarian organizations regular access to persons in detention.
3– We recognize that humanitarian activities aim to alleviate human suffering and protect the lives and dignity of non-combatants or those who have ceased to fight. We agree that essential humanitarian operations must be allowed to resume and humanitarian personnel and assets protected, including:
A- Respecting the basic humanitarian principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality and independence of humanitarian operations.
b- Allowing and facilitating the rapid unimpeded passage of humanitarian aid, including medical and surgical equipment, and ensuring freedom of movement for relief workers that is necessary to perform their duties. And that includes:
(1) Facilitate the safe, expeditious and unhindered passage of humanitarian personnel through all available routes (and any existing humanitarian corridors) as required by needs, into and within the country, including the movement of humanitarian aid convoys.
(2) Adopting simple and quick procedures for all logistical and administrative arrangements for humanitarian relief operations.
(3) Adhere to regular humanitarian breaks and quiet days as needed.
(4) Refrain from interfering with major humanitarian operations and not accompany humanitarian workers when they carry out humanitarian activities, taking into account the amended directives and procedures for humanitarian action in Sudan..
C- Protect and respect workers, assets, supplies, offices, warehouses and other facilities in the humanitarian field. Armed actors must not interfere with the activities of humanitarian operations. While respecting the principle of the neutrality of humanitarian actors, armed actors must ensure the security of transport corridors and storage and distribution areas. It is also prohibited to attack, harass, intimidate or arbitrarily detain individuals, or to attack, destroy or steal supplies, facilities, materials, units or relief vehicles..
4– Make every effort to ensure that these obligations – and all obligations of international humanitarian law – are fully disseminated within our ranks, and that focal points are designated to engage with humanitarian actors to facilitate their activities.
5– Enabling responsible humanitarian agencies, such as the Sudanese Red Crescent and/or the International Committee of the Red Cross, to collect the dead, register their names and bury them in coordination with the competent authorities.
6– Take all necessary measures to ensure that all persons subject to our instructions, direction or control comply with international humanitarian law, in particular the obligations contained in this Declaration.
7– In furtherance of the principles and commitments set forth in this Declaration, we commit to prioritizing discussions with the aim of achieving a short-term ceasefire to facilitate the delivery of emergency humanitarian assistance and the restoration of essential services, and we further commit to scheduling subsequent broad discussions to achieve a permanent cessation of hostilities.
The declaration was signed in Jeddah on (May 11, 2023), in cooperation with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United States of America.”
In addition, “Agence France Presse” quoted an American official familiar with the talks as saying that the two sides signed “a declaration of commitment to protect civilians in Sudan.”“.
And she explained that the two parties, according to this declaration, adhere to general principles to allow the arrival of humanitarian aid, restore electricity, water and other basic services, withdraw their personnel from hospitals and allow the dead to be buried with dignity.“.
The official, who asked not to be named, confirmed that the talks are continuing to reach a cease-fire, speaking of a proposal for a truce for ten days..
She explained that what the two parties agreed upon “is not a cease-fire. It is an affirmation of their obligations under international humanitarian law, especially with regard to the treatment of civilians and the need to provide space for work” of those concerned in the humanitarian field..
The official expressed a “cautious” hope that the signing of this declaration by the two parties would “contribute to establishing a momentum forcing them to provide space” for the entry of humanitarian aid, although she acknowledged that a “far” distance still separates the two parties in the talks..
In addition, negotiations will continue to reach a new temporary truce that allows the delivery of aid, which may last up to ten days, according to a statement issued by the US State Department..
For its part, the Forces for Freedom and Change, the former civilian component of the Sudanese government, considered the signing of this declaration “an important first step towards ending the war that has been going on in the country since April 15,” and urged the two parties to “strictly and seriously adhere to what was agreed upon.”“.
The tripartite mechanism consisting of the United Nations, the African Union and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) also welcomed the declaration..
“This is an important first step towards alleviating human suffering and protecting the lives and dignity of civilians in Sudan,” she said in a statement“.
The two sides agreed for the first time on means to monitor violations of any truce reached, officials said.
A second US official said the negotiations were “very difficult” and acknowledged that both sides may have ulterior motives by monitoring the ceasefire..
“Frankly, there is some hope on both sides that the other side will be seen as the perpetrator,” he added“.
But he noted that the length of time mediation took would at least make the cease-fire more “effective” if one was reached.