Volker Perthes, the head of the United Nations mission in Sudan, has expressed concern about the potential escalation of the conflict in Sudan into an ethnic and tribal civil war. He emphasised the importance of holding accountable those responsible for the crimes committed during the conflict, as their actions could have broader regional consequences than in the past. Perthes made these remarks in light of the increasing reports of human rights violations and the urgent humanitarian needs in Sudan.
Perthes emphasized that the conflict in Sudan is at risk of morphing into a fully-fledged civil war characterized by ethnic divisions and ideological polarization. Reports of murder, rape, and looting have further fueled public discontent and a desire for change among ordinary Sudanese. While not explicitly calling for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to act, Perthes highlighted that the ICC is closely monitoring the situation.
The conflict, which has been ongoing for three months, has already claimed the lives of over 3,000 people and displaced millions. The United Nations has warned of possible crimes against humanity in the western region of Darfur. Perthes underscored that both sides of the conflict must be held accountable for their actions, as the escalating violence poses a humanitarian catastrophe and strains neighbouring countries, such as Chad, which is hosting Sudanese refugees.
Recognising the risk of the conflict spilling over into neighbouring states and becoming a regional crisis, Perthes called for diplomatic efforts. He supported the ongoing diplomatic initiatives led by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and an Egypt-hosted summit of Sudan's neighbours. Perthes emphasised the importance of countries involved in the conflict refraining from supplying arms or support to the warring factions, to push for a meaningful ceasefire.
The Cairo meeting hosted by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi brought together leaders from neighbouring Sudan, including Ethiopia, South Sudan, Chad, Eritrea, the Central African Republic, and Libya. The discussions aimed to establish effective mechanisms for a peaceful settlement of the conflict and address the regional implications of the crisis. While previous attempts at ceasefire agreements have failed, Perthes emphasized the need for a lasting ceasefire, safe humanitarian corridors, and inclusive dialogue involving all political forces in Sudan. He urged the Sudanese military and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) to commit to the ceasefire negotiations facilitated by IGAD.
The situation in Sudan has drawn international concern, mainly due to the rising number of displaced people and the potential for mass migration. The international community, including the European Union and the United States, has provided financial support to assist refugees and address humanitarian needs. However, there is a growing call for increased human rights monitoring and scrutiny to ensure that the assistance is not inadvertently contributing to the entry restriction or the return of Sudanese individuals with irregular legal status.
As the conflict continues to inflict suffering and instability, urgent efforts are needed to address the root causes, ensure accountability, and provide essential aid to the affected population. The international community must work collectively to support Sudan in its pursuit of peace, stability, and the protection of human rights.
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