On Sunday, July 2, President Omar al-Bashir and his cabinet issued a decree extending the ceasefire currently in effect between the government army and rebel troops from the war-torn regions of Darfur, Blue Nile, and South Kordofan until the end of October 2017. The decision comes two weeks before the United States plans to lift a 20-year-old trade embargo against Sudan.
On a related note, on June 17, the SPLM-N (Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North) rebels announced the suspension of peace negotiations with the Sudanese government regarding South Kordofan and Blue Nile states. It is unclear whether the extended ceasefire will have an impact on the rebels’ declaration.
On January 13, the US announced plans to lift the trade embargo on Sudan, provided that within Sudan took action to further improve its human rights record and resolve political and military conflicts within 180 days. US officials also announced they would unfreeze Sudanese assets and lift financial sanctions as a response to Khartoum's cooperation in fighting against the Islamic State (IS) and other militant groups.
On January 15, President Omar al-Bashir and his cabinet announced an extension to the ceasefire between the army and rebel troops by another six months, in response to the US declaration. The truce, originally declared in June 2016, had already been extended several times.
The Darfur region, located in the west of the country, is affected by extremely poor security conditions. Fighting between rebel groups and government forces has been ongoing since 2003. Despite various peace agreements, the number of rebel groups in the region continues to grow, fueling violence and creating one of the most alarming humanitarian crises in the world. Ethnic clashes are also increasingly frequent.
The security situation is similar in the south of the country along the border with South Sudan, where confrontations between SPLM-N rebels - the group that sparked the Sudanese civil war and the subsequent independence of South Sudan - and the government are regularly reported in the South Kordofan and Blue Nile regions.
Many Western governments advise against nonessential travel to Sudan and against all travel to certain regions, including the five Darfur states, South Kordofan, Blue Nile, certain areas of North Kordofan, the Djebel Ouanat region, Dinder National Park, and Sennar state. Due to a high risk of terrorist activity, always be on guard when visiting sites that are potential terrorist targets (public transportation, train stations, ports, airports, public or government buildings, embassies or consulates, international organizations, schools and universities, religious sites, markets, hotels and restaurants frequented by foreigners/Westerners, festivals, etc.).
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