Fleeing Sudanese seek refuge in Chad Fleeing Sudanese seek refuge in Chad 

Sudanese war triggers grave consequences for region and beyond

A fragile one-week ceasefire in Sudan appears to be in jeopardy as artillery fire continues to resound in parts of Khartoum where armoured vehicles patrol the streets and warplanes fly overhead.

By Sofiya Ruda and Linda Bordoni

A ceasefire deal between Sudan’s warring military factions raised hopes of a pause in a war that has already killed over 850 people, driven over a million from their homes, and threatens to destabilise the entire east African region.

Tuesday, 23 May, marked the first full day of the ceasefire reached in Jeddah, which is being monitored by Saudi Arabia and the U.S., and is meant to allow for the delivery of humanitarian relief following the outbreak of clashes five weeks ago.

Speaking to Vatican Radio, Marco Di Liddo, Director and Analyst in charge of the Africa Desk and the Russia and Balkans Desk at Ce.S.I. - Center for International Studies, explained the current stalemate between the warring forces and highlighted the far-reaching effects of the war in Sudan could have on Africa and beyond.

“There is no mutual trust between the Rapid Support Forces and the government in Khartoum and its armed forces,” he said, “hence, both sides are trying to take advantage of any distraction to, at least, gain a tactical advantage.”

“Within a scenario of a stalemate there is a great balance.”

Asked whether the United Nations or other international interposition forces could play a role in bringing peace, Di Liddo expressed his opinion that the UN could push the two sides to sit at the negotiating table, at least to agree to respect measures that would protect the security and lives of non-combatants.

“The problem is, that to apply such measures in Sudan right now, would require a military force, an interposition mission, if not from the United Nations, it could be from the African Union,” he said.

However, the analyst highlighted that Sudan represents a high-risk scenario at the moment, “with high levels of violence” that would deter countries or coalitions from committing “to enter that theatre.”

Armed men in Khartoum
Armed men in Khartoum

Destabilization of an entire region

Meanwhile, with over one million people fleeing the violence the whole region is destabilized and Di Liddo observed that the profound effects of this will only become evident in the future as right now most Sudanese are moving within Sudanese territory.

“However, because of its geographical location, and its regional and international political weight, an unstable Sudan risks bringing entropic phenomena to Chad, to Ethiopia, fuelling human trafficking, and this would lead in the medium term, to an increase in irregular migratory flows within, and from East Africa and towards Europe,” he explained.

So more than the risk of destabilizing Europe, the expert continued, there is a concrete risk of seeing “certain European interests jeopardised”, - European interests in East Africa - and on the other hand, there is the risk that the migratory flow along the East African route will increase and in turn, become a political problem for European leaders.

Sudanese refugees
Sudanese refugees

The drama of the population

At the heart of all this, the people of Sudan are suffering the senseless violence of war. Hundreds have died, thousands have been injured, many more are fleeing for their lives.

“There are no words, there are not enough adjectives to describe the drama.”

“We have to imagine a country that even before the outbreak of hostilities, was in full humanitarian emergency, with widespread poverty both in Khartoum and in rural areas,” Di Liddo noted.

At this moment, he continued, physical insecurity linked to the fighting has been added to the political, economic, and humanitarian insecurity.

“The Sudanese people, at this time, are a battered people who see no other solution but to flee, at least to try to protect their own lives and those of their loved ones,” he said.

Sudanese refugees seek safety in Chad
Sudanese refugees seek safety in Chad

South Sudanese refugees forced to return

Many people of those on the move are South Sudanese refugees who had sought safety in neighbouring Sudan. Now they are forced to return to their own ravaged nation.

Di Liddo said South Sudan is currently slightly more stable than Sudan, “but we must not forget that South Sudan has some very important pockets of conflict both in the north - the Abyei region springs to mind- and in the northeast, in the Blue Nile region, as well as in the central belt of the country, where there are clashes between different ethnic and social communities, for example, sedentary farmers, against, semi-nomadic herders.”

“We are talking about a country with a severe emergency at the level of development and poverty.”

Thus, Di Liddo concluded, South Sudan is a country where these refugees, unfortunately, cannot be assisted as they should. Moreover, he said, “in some cases, due to the pressure they exert on the territory,” their presence causes a “further worsening of an already precarious local situation.”

South Sudanese returnees embark on a journey back to their ravaged nation
South Sudanese returnees embark on a journey back to their ravaged nation

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23 May 2023, 13:30