Putting an end to the crisis in Sudan
Any violence and instability in Sudan will not only have a devastating impact on the people of Sudan, but it also runs the risk of spiraling out of control and subsequently spilling over to neighboring countries. This could have severe repercussions for the entire Horn of Africa region.
This is why finding a realistic and effective political solution for Sudan is critical in order to put an end to the conflict and prevent future violence.
One of the consequences of intensified violence in Sudan is that the refugee crisis could worsen, potentially affecting other countries. Sudan shares borders with seven countries — Libya, Egypt, Chad, the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Eritrea. As the World Bank has warned: “The high incidence of conflict, particularly past fighting that led to South Sudan’s secession, has led to a large population of refugees and internally displaced persons. Sudan is now a source, destination and transit country for irregular migration, including refugees and asylum seekers using the East African northbound migratory route through Libya to Europe. The country hosts an estimated 800,000 South Sudanese refugees and 330,000 refugees and asylum seekers from Eritrea, Syria, Ethiopia, CAR, Chad, and Yemen.”
It is important to point out that the people of Sudan are the first to suffer from the consequences of any internal conflict and violence. For example, the latest clashes between forces from Sudan’s army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces led to the deaths of hundreds of people, while thousands have been injured so far, according to the World Health Organization.
In addition, it is worth noting that, unfortunately, this is a chaos-stricken nation that is already suffering from a stagnated economy and poverty. Any violence will only exacerbate the situation and prevent economic development. The director of Sudan’s Commission for Social Security, Solidarity and Poverty Reduction, Ezeldin El-Safi, who met with delegates from the UN in Khartoum in February, stressed the alarming growth of poverty in Sudan, which has reportedly reached 65 percent.
This is a chaos-stricken nation that is already suffering from a stagnated economy and poverty
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh
Children are most likely to bear the brunt of this disaster. The 2021 extrapolatory analysis of the Household Budget and Poverty Survey conducted by UNICEF indicated that the abject child poverty rate increased “from 12 percent in 2014 to 46 percent in 2018 and 85 percent in 2020, extreme poverty rates from 31 percent in 2014 to 71 percent in 2018 and 95 percent in 2020, and overall poverty rates from 43 percent in 2014 to 80 percent in 2018 and 97 percent in 2020.”
The first key step to take in this kind of situation is to keep humanitarian corridors open in order to allow humanitarian and medical assistance to enter the conflict-affected areas and to permit the evacuation of civilians from the conflict zone. As UN Special Envoy for Sudan Volker Perthes told reporters last week, when safe passages and humanitarian corridors are not respected, “We cannot deliver when our staff is attacked, is thrown out of their offices, when their offices are destroyed, their vehicles looted, and sometimes even their residencies being under fire or destroyed.”
Secondly, mediation plays a vital role in helping to encourage reconciliation between the parties in conflict. Otherwise, an armed conflict in Sudan could spiral out of control and impact the whole Horn of Africa region. As UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned: “Any further escalation could be devastating for the country and the region. I urge all those with influence over the situation to use it in the cause of peace, to support efforts to end the violence, restore order and return to the path of transition.”
Several countries have already shown their desire to resolve the situation by reaching out to the Sudanese leaders. For example, in a tweet posted on the day violence erupted, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said: “We call on the brothers in Sudan to quickly stop military operations, exercise maximum restraint, avoid escalation, and give priority to the interest of the brotherly Sudanese people by preserving their gains and capabilities, and to return to the framework agreement that aims to reach a political declaration that achieves security, stability and prosperity for Sudan and its brotherly people.” And the UAE Embassy in Khartoum stated the “importance of de-escalation and working toward finding a peaceful solution to the crisis between the concerned parties.”
In a nutshell, the armed conflict in Sudan could quickly spiral out of control, exacerbate the nation’s refugee crisis and potentially spill over to neighboring countries, which would have severe repercussions for the whole region. This is why the existence of functioning humanitarian corridors and mediation are critical at this time.
- Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist. Twitter: @Dr_Rafizadeh