Innocent victims of Sudan war are suffering horribly
The toll the devastating war in Sudan is taking on millions of ordinary people is tremendous and unimaginable. The many attempts to reach a ceasefire have so far all failed. If the international community cannot halt the war, it ought to immediately take action and at least ensure the safe passage of humanitarian assistance to millions of people.
The war between troops loyal to Sudanese army chief Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan and the Rapid Support Forces militia of Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo has been raging for more than six months, leaving more than 9,000 dead and forcing about 6 million people to flee their homes. On average, 1 million Sudanese have been displaced every month due to the violence. A total of 25 million people in Sudan are now dependent on humanitarian aid. The last few weeks have seen a spike in the number of people leaving the country as refugees.
Of the 6 million displaced so far, about 1.2 million have left the country to take refuge in neighboring nations. One of the countries to have received a large number of Sudanese refugees is Chad. Other refugee-receiving countries include South Sudan, Egypt, Ethiopia, the Central African Republic and Libya. Those who make it to one of Sudan’s neighboring countries often have to go through harrowing and difficult journeys.
Sudanese refugees are also facing many difficulties due to the fact that the countries they are fleeing to are struggling with their own poverty and socioeconomic crises. For example, Chad has its own multifaceted crisis and financial woes. It is one of the poorest countries in the world and it was already hosting more than half a million refugees from Sudan before this latest conflict erupted in April.
In civil wars, women and children tend to bear the brunt of the conflict. And Sudan is no different.
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh
In civil wars, women and children, which are the most vulnerable groups, tend to bear the brunt of the conflict. And Sudan is no different, with cases of sexual violence, abductions of women and girls and rape on the rise. According to the UN, “more than 50 incidents of sexual violence linked to the hostilities have been reported to the (the UN assistance mission) office in Sudan, impacting at least 105 victims — 86 women, one man and 18 children. Twenty-three of the incidents involved rape, 26 were of gang rape and three were of attempted rape.”
The continuation of the war and the increased violence could provide a ripe environment for opportunistic terror groups to emerge, mobilize, recruit, gain power and launch attacks. The modus operandi of terrorist groups is generally anchored in efforts to further destabilize a country or region and create chaos, providing a good space that they can then exploit and prosper in.
In addition, wars can attract mercenaries, who gain financially and advance the political agenda of their paymaster or a specific party. Reports indicate that fighters from other countries, including the Central African Republic, Libya and Chad, are already involved in the Sudan war. This could have severe repercussions for the whole region and beyond if the conflict continues to grow.
The top priority and most important action to take is to chart a path that ensures the safe passage of humanitarian aid, including corridors that allow medical assistance to enter the impacted areas.
The warring parties should also allow the evacuation of civilians from the conflict zone. This is currently the most significant issue in Sudan, as more than half of the population is in need of humanitarian assistance.
The most important action to take is to chart a path that ensures the safe passage of humanitarian aid.
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh
In the renewed peace talks, which are being steered by Saudi Arabia, the US and the East African regional bloc known as the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, representatives from the warring parties ought to be pressured to abide by international human rights and humanitarian laws, particularly when it comes to ensuring the protection of civilians. “At a time when so much hope is being placed on the Jeddah talks to achieve a sustainable ceasefire and facilitated humanitarian access, I call on all parties to refrain from escalating and expanding the conflict,” said Clementine Nkweta-Salami, deputy head of the UN mission in Sudan.
There should be a cohesive plan to do so. The Jeddah talks are currently the most viable path to de-escalate and hopefully end the war in Sudan. The Jeddah Declaration of Commitment to Protect the Civilians of Sudan is anchored in international human rights law and places an emphasis on making a distinction between civilians and combatants, ensuring the safe passage of civilians, protecting medical personnel, allowing humanitarian relief to reach the population, and preventing the recruitment of children as soldiers in the war.
If the international community cannot find a permanent solution, a temporary cessation of hostilities should be the goal for now. That would provide the time needed to find a sustainable mechanism that can ultimately lead to a permanent solution. A temporary cessation of the war could accomplish some of the most urgent objectives, which include the opening of humanitarian corridors.
In a nutshell, millions of Sudanese people, particularly women and children, are suffering horribly. The first action the international community needs to take is to ensure the safe passage of humanitarian and medical aid to people who are caught up in the war and are experiencing unimaginable physical and mental trauma.
• Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist. X: @Dr_Rafizadeh