Let’s Wait for “a day or two”: Catholic Priest in Sudan on Latest Seven-day Ceasefire

Flag of Sudan on soldier's arm. Credit: Bumble Dee/Shutterstock

The events of the next couple of days will determine whether or not the warring parties in Sudan are respecting the latest ceasefire expected to begin on Thursday, May 4, a Catholic missionary Priest in the Northeastern African nation has said.

In an interview with ACI Africa following the announcement of a seven-day ceasefire to allow peace talks between representatives of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and those of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), Fr. Zobinou Komlan Hubert said that his skepticism was based on the fact that previous ceasefires were violated. 

“The ceasefire has been announced twice already, but was not respected,” Fr. Komlan said Wednesday, May 3, making reference to two successive three-day ceasefires that were reportedly violated.

The Parish Priest of St. Joseph Kalakla Parish of the Catholic Archdiocese of Khartoum, located some 15 km South of the Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, added, “The shooting and bombing can be heard at any time, whether from the centre of Khartoum or from Omdurman and Jebel Aulia. So, ceasefire seems to be just an announcement. The reality on the ground is that the confrontation is still going on.”

“We have to wake up and stay for a day or two days without hearing any shooting or bombing before appreciating it and say that the two parties have taken it into account,” the Togolese member of the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB) said about the announcement to halt the violence that broke out on April 15.


On Tuesday, May 2, South Sudan, which has offered to mediate the Sudan conflict announced the May 4-11 ceasefire between SAF that is headed by General Abdel Fattah al Burhan, who led the coup against the transitional government in October 2021, and General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo of the paramilitary RSF. 

"The government of the Republic of South Sudan has obtained the consent of the two parties to the current conflict in Sudan to name their representatives to peace talks to be held at any venue of their choice," the spokesperson for Ministry of Foreign Affairs of South Sudan, Pauline Adhong Malok, said at a media briefing in the capital of South Sudan, Juba.

The two warring Sudanese Generals, Ms. Adhong said during the May 2 media briefing, "have agreed in principle for a seven-day truce from May 4th to 11th."

Ms. Adhong further said that South Sudan’s President, Salva Kiir, who she said had had a phone conversation with the two warring Sudanese Generals underscored the need for a longer ceasefire and a speedy resolution of the violent conflict.

President Kiir heads the team of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Assembly of the Heads of State that is negotiating for an end to armed conflict in Sudan.

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In the May 3 interview with ACI Africa, Fr. Komlan shared about the effects of the violence.

“After the violence broke out on April 15, there was total panic. The movements to the town were stopped. Many people couldn't find their ways home that Saturday, especially those who were in Khartoum centre, around the airport and Omdurman,” the SDB member recounted. 

“In some schools like Comboni college, Saint Peter and Paul Primary and Secondary, Saint Joseph Vocational Centre … the students and the teachers stayed two days inside,” he further recounted, adding that the administrators of the Khartoum-based Catholic institutions of learning had to “take the risk to release the students who found their way home on foot.”

After three days of intense fighting in Sudan, the Parish Priest St. Joseph Kalakla Parish said, “the reality was that people just decided to leave Khartoum; foreign countries started organizing evacuations.”

“So many people have been displaced in other parts of the country; many foreigners (have been) evacuated with all the difficulties in transporting people to Port Sudan, borders of Egypt, Chad and Ethiopia or Rink for South Sudanese,” Fr. Komlan who was appointed Parish Priest last year in July told ACI Africa May 3.


Citing experiences of those who have fled Sudan’s capital amid violence, the Catholic Priest who ministers in the Parish alongside three other SDB Priests, a Diocesan Priest, and a Seminarian highlighted the process of fleeing the violence in Sudan. 

“Thousands of people are suffering to cross borders or to fly to their countries. For some families from our parish, they are stuck in Rink, waiting for flight to Juba more than a week now,” he said, and continued, “The issue of food and water and electricity is the biggest problem for the people who left and are waiting somewhere and for us who remained in Khartoum. We don't know how it will be if they continue fighting.”

On April 20, rockets hit Church premises, including the main gate of Mary Queen of Africa Cathedral of the Catholic Diocese of El Obeid and the Priests’ residence.

Members of the Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SCBC) who include Church leaders in Sudan and South Sudan have urged the parties in conflict to end the violence.

In their April 17 statement shared with ACI Africa, SCBC said, “We the Catholic Bishops in South Sudan are saddened by the recent fighting in Sudan especially in Khartoum and the major cities in the country. We call for an end to the fighting and revert to dialogue in order to preserve the unity of the country and not to further the suffering of the people.”

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“The majority of people in Sudan are suffering and they are yearning for peace,” Catholic Bishops in the two neighboring countries say in the statement that was signed by SCBC Deputy President, Archbishop Stephen Ameyu Martin of South Sudan’s Juba Archdiocese. 

Following Omar al-Bashir’s ousting in April 2019, the political transition was supposed to organize elections by the end of 2023, with Mr. Burhan promising a transition to civilian rule.

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