AFRICA/SUDAN - The ten-month war has devastated the country

Wednesday, 21 February 2024

Khartoum (Agenzia Fides) - The war that broke out in Sudan ten months ago has triggered a devastating humanitarian crisis. As of January 2024, there were over 10.7 million displaced people, the largest displacement crisis in the world. The conflict has claimed 12,000 to 15,000 lives. A drama that Pope Francis recalled after the Angelus on Sunday, February 18: "Ten years have passed now since the outbreak of the armed conflict in Sudan, which has caused a very grave humanitarian situation. I once again ask the conflicting sides to stop this war, which inflicts a great deal of harm to the people and the future of the country. Let us pray that paths of peace can be found soon, to build the future of dear Sudan".
The conflict that broke out on April 15, 2023 between the regular army (Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) led by Abdelfattah Al-Burhan and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) led by Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo (called Hemeti), doesn't seem to have an easy ending. On the contrary, it has triggered a dynamic that threatens to fragment Sudan, as other armed groups that have been present in different areas of the country for some time have taken sides or taken advantage of the chaos to take control of the areas in which they are present. At the moment, the RSF appears to have an advantage over the regular army after taking control of Wad Madani in Al-Gezira state, considered Sudan's breadbasket, in mid-December. The RSF can also count on arms, ammunition, fuel and other supplies from neighboring countries: Central Africa, Chad, Libya (Cyrenaica), as well as on support from Russian mercenaries from the Wagner company and the United Arab Emirates. Meanwhile, the regular army has lost an important Yarmouk weapons factory in the Khartoum area, but is counting on some outside support, such as that from Egypt. Videos of attacks by Ukrainian special forces against the RSF and Russian Wagner mercenaries are also circulating online, almost symbolizing an expansion of the war in Ukraine onto Sudanese soil. The conflict is complicated by divisions within the armed forces themselves. The regular army is internally divided between tribes, ethnic groups and religious denominations, as it is recruited from different strata of Sudanese society. On the other hand, the RSF's flexible command structure makes its fighters less controllable by the organization's leadership, which encourages human rights violations. These, in turn, can trigger a spiral of revenge and further violence. Finally, the various groups that have joined one side or the other are themselves divided into opposing formations. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 21/2/2024)