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Sudan army urges ex-soldiers to re-enlist amid conflict

Sudan’s army wants all former soldiers to present themselves at their nearest military base as Saudi Arabia and the US report better compliance with a truce.

Sudan The paramilitary Rapid Support Forces are largely bunkered down in Khartoum neighbourhoods.
May 27, 2023
27 May 2023

Sudan’s army has called for reservists and retired soldiers to re-enlist, a move seemingly aimed at expanding its numbers amid a deadly conflict with a rival paramilitary and one that may fuel fighting despite a truce.

The army initially said all retired soldiers and able men should arm themselves for self-defence but later clarified this to call on former soldiers to present themselves at their nearest military base.

An army representative said enlistment would be voluntary. 

Sudan’s existing armed forces law says, however, that retired soldiers remain as reservists, eligible for compulsory re-enlistment. 

That does not include those who only did Sudan’s mandatory two-year military service.

Saudi Arabia and the United states said the warring sides were complying better with a ceasefire that the two countries had brokered and are monitoring despite reports of sporadic fighting in Khartoum and elsewhere.

The army and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) began a seven-day truce on Monday intended to allow access to aid and services after battles since mid-April that have killed hundreds and created a refugee crisis.

Despite a drop in fighting, there have still been reports throughout the week of clashes, artillery fire and air strikes.

“Although there was observed use of military aircraft and isolated gunfire in Khartoum, the situation improved from May 24 when the ceasefire monitoring mechanism detected significant breaches of the agreement,” a Saudi-US statement said.

Saudi and US representatives “cautioned the parties against further violations and implored them to improve respect for the ceasefire on May 25, which they did,” it added.

Residents of Khartoum who have stayed in the city suffer from breakdowns of electricity, water, health and communication services.

Many homes, particularly in well-off areas, have been looted, along with food stores, flour mills and other essential facilities.

“It’s all part of the chaos of this war,” said Taysir Abdelrahim, who found out from abroad her home was looted. 

“Even if we were in Sudan there’s nothing you can do about it.”

One organisation helping children with cancer said a guesthouse it operates had been raided, including its safe and patients’ rooms. 

The children had been previously transferred.

The RSF has denied looting, blaming people who have stolen its uniforms. 

Its fighters are largely bunkered down in Khartoum neighbourhoods while the army relies on air power.

It is unclear if either side has gained an edge.

About 1.3 million people have fled their homes, either across borders or within the vast country.

The Health Ministry has said at least 730 people have died although the true figure is likely much higher.

With half of Sudan’s roughly 49 million people in need of aid, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) said grain to feed two million for a month was being sent by ship.

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

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

The Saudi-US statement said some aid had been delivered to Khartoum on Friday, without giving details. 

The Red Cross has said it managed to deliver supplies to seven hospitals.

Fighting has flared in several major cities of west Sudan in recent days, according to human rights monitors living in the area, most recently overnight in El Fashir, capital of North Darfur state.

Zalingei and El Geneina have had a communications blackout amid militia attacks.

Residents of Nyala said calm had returned after days of fighting, although water was still cut off.

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