UN Envoy for Sudan urged the country’s warring generals to honor a seven-day ceasefire that began Monday night, warning the growing ethnic dimension of the fighting risks engulfing Sudan in a protracted conflict.

Volker Perthes told the UN Security Council that the conflict, which began on April 15, has shown no signs of slowing down despite six previous declarations of a ceasefire by both sides. All previous ceasefires have been broken.

Monday’s ceasefire is the seventh announced since the conflict between the Sudanese army, led by General Abdel Fattah Burhan, and the Rapid Support Forces, commanded by Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, erupted last month.

Speaking hours before the ceasefire began, Perthes called on both sides to stop the fighting so that desperately needed humanitarian aid can reach those in need and civilians caught in the fighting can leave safely.

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The violence has been most severe in Khartoum and the western Darfur region, where RSF has a strong armed presence.

According to conservative estimates, Perthes said more than 700 people have been killed, including 190 children, and 6,000 have been injured. He said over 1 million have been displaced with many missing.

Perthes also expressed concern about the troubling ethnic dimension of the war, which is most visible in the troubled Darfur region.

In the early 2000s, African communities from Darfur that had long complained of discrimination rebelled against the Khartoum government, which responded with a military campaign that the International Criminal Court later said amounted to genocide. State-sponsored Arab militias known as the Janjaweed were accused of widespread murder, rape and other atrocities. Many of its fighters were later folded into the Rapid Support Force.

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Perthes said that in El Geneina in West Darfur, clashes between the rival forces descended into ethnic violence on April 24, with tribal militias joining the fight and civilians taking up arms to protect themselves. About 450 civilians are said to have been killed, he said.

“Homes, markets and hospitals were ransacked and burned, UN premises looted,” he said.

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Perthes said the growing ethnic dimension of the conflict not only poses a risk to Sudan but has “implications for the region.”

Unlike the previous cease-fires, Monday’s agreement — brokered by the United States and Saudi Arabia — will be accompanied by a cross-party committee designed to track potential violations, the two mediating nations said. The 12-person committee will consist of three representatives from both warring parties, three from the United States and three from Saudi Arabia.

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Suliman Baldo, head of the Sudan Transparency and Policy Tracker think tank, expects the two parties to better stick to this week-long ceasefire.

“I think the RSF needs a break because it has come under considerable pressure from the (Sudanese army) in Khartoum which is trying to flush RSF units from residential areas,” Baldo said.

“It (the Sudanese army) may be tempted to continue its offensive in Khartoum, but it will become clear to them that this will lead to even higher costs in collateral casualties among civilians,” he added.

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Perthes called the agreement, which is renewable, “a welcome development” but warned that “fighting and troop movements have continued today, despite a commitment by both sides not to pursue military advantages before the ceasefire takes effect.”

Perthes accused both warring parties of flouting the laws of war by attacking homes, businesses, places of worship and water and electricity installations.

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Health facilities are collapsing with more than two-thirds of hospitals closed, many health workers killed, medical supplies running out and health facilities reportedly being used as military positions, he said.

Reports of sexual violence against women and girls, including rapes in Khartoum and Darfur, are being followed up by the UN, he said.

“Reports of rampant looting of Sudanese homes and businesses, threats, harassment and enforced disappearance of residents are deeply concerning,” Perthes said, adding that UN premises, housing and warehouses have also been looted. He said criminal activity has been exacerbated by the release of thousands of prisoners and the proliferation of small arms.

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Although the warring rivals do not trust each other, the U.N. envoy told reporters later that he believes each has learned from weeks of fighting “that they will not achieve an easy military victory,” Perthes said. Even if one side wins after a long struggle, “it may be at the cost of losing the country.”

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In a video briefing to the Security Council, African Union Commissioner Bankole Adeoye also called for “more concerted actionable efforts for a lasting cessation of hostilities” and urged the rival generals “to go all the way for peace.”

Workneh Gebeyehu, executive secretary of the IGAD regional group, told the council via video that its delegation led by South Sudan President Salva Kiir has been engaging the parties daily and coordinating with regional and international actors.

He said the seven-day ceasefire “makes us cautiously optimistic that a permanent cessation of hostilities is within reach” and called for much-needed international support for IGAD’s efforts to resolve the conflict.