World News UN Warns of ‘Greater Fragmentation Risk’ in Sudan

Posted by: Berhane Habtemariam

Date: Thursday, 10 August 2023

A house in Al-Azhari neighborhood, south of Khartoum, hit by an artillery shell. (AFP)
A house in Al-Azhari neighborhood, south of Khartoum, hit by an artillery shell. (AFP)

Assistant Secretary-General Martha Ama A. Pobee has warned that the longer the war continues in Sudan, the “greater the risk of fragmentation, foreign interference and erosion of sovereignty.”

Pobee said that “more than one hundred days have passed since the eruption of fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces.”

“Clashes between these parties continue in various parts of the country, particularly Khartoum, Bahri, Omdurman, and Darfur, with neither side achieving victory nor making any significant gains,” Pobee said on Wednesday during a security briefing to the Security Council in New York.

“Khartoum State remains an epicenter of the conflict, with major combat concentrated around key SAF installations including the Sudanese Armed Forces General Command Headquarters.”

Pobee said that “the parties have exacted tremendous suffering on the people of the Darfur region."

"The fighting in Darfur continues to reopen the old wounds of ethnic tension of past conflicts in the region. The brutal violence experienced in El Geneina and Sirba are particular examples of this situation. This is deeply worrying and could quickly engulf the country in a prolonged ethnic conflict with regional spillovers," she added.

Pobee further welcomed the initiative by Chad “to convene a grouping of Darfurian stakeholders to address the situation in the region” and called for “ensuring the participation of a broad range of stakeholders including armed groups, tribal leaders, civil society, and women’s groups.”

She described the situation in the two Kordofan and the Blue Nile States of Sudan as "fragile", with persistent military actions.

“In North Kordofan, SAF controls El Obeid city while RSF is controlling areas around the city. Since June, the SPLM-North Al Hilu faction has continued to make military advancements in SAF-controlled areas in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.”

“While the East is relatively calm, there are indications of active mobilization efforts in support of SAF, with the emergence of mobilization committees and establishment of military training camps. The mobilization is particularly worrisome and risks plunging the East into conflict along ethnic lines, further highlighting the fragility of the region,” she remarked.

“The Northern part of the country remains under Sudanese Armed Forces control,” added Pobee.

“The conflict in Sudan continues to have immense repercussions on the country and its people who continue to face unimaginable suffering. The humanitarian and protection needs are rising by the day with no signs of a reprieve.”

“The indiscriminate and sometimes targeted attacks on civilians and civilian objects and infrastructure continue, particularly in Khartoum, Darfur, and North Kordofan, as the parties continue to disregard calls to protect civilians and uphold their international human rights and humanitarian law obligations.”

“Sexual violence continues to be perpetrated on a large scale, while children continue to be killed or victimized or are at risk of being recruited to fight.

The systematic abductions and killings of human rights defenders in Darfur and Khartoum are on the rise. The parties to the conflict must take concrete actions to end and investigate these violations,” said Pobee.

She stressed that the UNITAMS and the wider UN "have on several occasions denounced specific egregious violations such as ethnically-motivated attacks in West Darfur, systematic looting and rape, or aerial bombardments, and has named those responsible."

“Hostilities in the country must come to an end and perpetrators should be held accountable for crimes committed, including sexual violence.”

Welcoming efforts undertaken by the African Union and Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), she commended the United States and Saudi Arabia for their role in facilitating negotiations between conflicting parties.

“Let me close by reiterating that there needs to be a negotiated solution to end this war as soon as possible. There is no other alternative.”

“The longer this war continues, the greater the risk of fragmentation, foreign interference and erosion of sovereignty, and the loss of Sudan’s future, particularly its youth.”

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