Sudan crisis: Fighting enters third week as UN warns country falling apart

Fighting among Sudan’s armed forces has entered its third week as the UN warns that the country is collapsing.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Saturday that the power struggle between the two top commanders of Sudan’s main armed forces, the official army and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) also known as the Janjaweed, is tearing the country apart.

“There is no right to go on fighting for power when the country is falling apart,” Guterres said in reference to the continuous fighting over power between the Army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the country’s de facto head, and his former deputy Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti, who commands the RSF, including tens-of-thousands of battle-hardened war veterans gathered in a collection of semi-organized militia.

Guterres, who was speaking to Al Arabiya television after efforts to extend a 72-hour truce failed, threw his weight behind the African-led attempts to mediate between the two sides, saying, “my appeal is for everything to be done to support an African-led initiative for peace in Sudan.”

Also, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) sounded the alarm, warning that the ongoing violence could plunge all of eastern Africa into a humanitarian crisis.

There is presently a shortage of food, water, and fuel in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, where millions of people are trapped.

Sudan, for decades, has been indirectly ruled by the junta and the two generals seized power in a 2021 coup that derailed Sudan’s transition to democracy by eventually prompting the prime minister, who had been reinstated, to resign.

The transitional government itself had been established after President Omar al-Bashir, a former military officer, was ousted following mass nationwide protests in Sudan over bread and fuel price rises in 2019.

However, Burhan and Daglo eventually fell out, most recently over the planned integration of the RSF into the regular army.

Sudan’s former prime minister warned on Saturday that the conflict could spiral into an international crisis, so big that the problems caused by the wars in Syria, Yemen, or Libya would look small compared to it.

Sudan’s former prime minister Abdalla Hamdok said the conflict in the African nation could deteriorate into one of the world’s worst civil wars if it is not stopped early.

Hamdok, who resigned in January last year, warned that a civil war in Sudan would be “a nightmare for the world.”

“God forbid if Sudan is to reach a point of civil war proper … Syria, Yemen, Libya will be a small play,” Hamdok said in an event in Nairobi, Kenya. “I think it would be a nightmare for the world.”

He described the conflict as a “senseless war” between two armies of Sudan, noting that, “There is nobody who is going to come out of this victorious. That is why it has to stop.”

Since the fighting started on April 15, at least 528 have been killed, 4,500 others wounded and about 75,000 people have been displaced within Sudan, or fled to neighboring Chad, Egypt, South Sudan or Ethiopia. Foreigners in Sudan and international staff have also fled the country.

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