(Bloomberg) — The UN chief urged the international community to step up pressure to end fighting in war-torn Sudan, as a two-day-old ceasefire repeatedly tested warnings of potential regional ripple-effects going.
The call, made by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, marked one of the most direct warnings between the military and the paramilitary Rapid Support Force since fighting began on April 15. The violence, which has left at least 427 dead and 3,700 injured, threatens to derail it completely. Stability and a power-sharing government are expected to lead the country of about 45 million to democratic elections after a 2021 coup. The fighting has only served to intensify the misery endured by the Sudanese people since that coup, exacerbating shortages in everything from food to fuel, water to medicine.
“The power struggle in Sudan is not only jeopardizing that country’s future, it is lighting a fuse that could explode across borders, causing years of immense suffering and stifling development,” Guterres said. May have to be pushed back decades.” “I urge all members of the Council and other member states and regional organizations to press them to de-escalate tensions and return immediately to the negotiating table.”
The army, led by Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and the RSF, led by Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, have accused each other of violating a ceasefire agreed on Monday.
Both sides blame each other for prison breaks and prisoner escapes, including officials who served under former dictator Omar al-Bashir, as well as the ousted leader. Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged crimes against humanity, was moved from Khartoum prison to Alia Hospital in Omdurman, the army said in a statement. Basheer was lodged in the capital’s jail since 2019.
International efforts to end the crisis have intensified, although diplomats have not yet persuaded Burhan or the RSF chief to agree to talks, said two senior envoys who declined to speak to the media because they declined to be identified. are not authorized to do so. Saudi Arabia and the US have joined forces with the UN and other countries to try to mediate talks between the two generals, while Khaled Omar, a former cabinet minister and chief spokesman for the Freedom and Change Forces – pro-democracy groups A coalition of — is leading the mediation efforts in Sudan, he said.
Foreign governments have looked to the African Union to help lead efforts to end the crisis as they may be able to bring the pressure of countries in the region to bear on both individuals. The continental body held a briefing on Wednesday to discuss the situation in Sudan, which had been set for April 28.
The UN representative in Sudan, Volker Perthes, said that while the ceasefire continued in some places, fighting and movement of troops continued, with clashes around the presidential palace, the international airport and military bases in Khartoum. He told the Security Council on Tuesday that there were also reports of attempted looting and sexual assaults and signs that ethnic militias were preparing themselves to join the fighting.
Violence is expected to escalate over the coming 48 hours, according to a UN internal security assessment for April 25 seen by Bloomberg. The Sudanese Armed Forces “are highly likely to increase the use of remaining air assets to target positions, bases and supply lines for the RSF,” it said.
The regional fallout from the conflict was beginning to become apparent.
Thousands have fled to the western border with Chad and the northern border with neighboring Egypt, where authorities have struggled to cope. Videos posted online showed scores of Sudanese people spread out on the floor on mats waiting to be processed by authorities. Sherin Tadros, deputy director of advocacy at London-based human rights group Amnesty International, said bus ticket prices have increased tenfold from $60-70 a week ago.
“The queues for buses at the border are long, processing is so slow and there is nowhere to wait,” she said on Twitter. “Many women, children, elders sit on the cement floor for days.”
One side of the conflict has captured the national public health laboratory, and technicians no longer have access to and are unable to manage biological and chemical materials stored there for medical purposes, the World Health Organization said. In addition, power outages risk eroding the facility’s dwindling stock of blood.
A spokeswoman for the UN refugee agency said no detailed information was yet available about the situation on the Egyptian border.
(Recast and update with details on Bashir, WHO comment)
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.