Sudan in turmoil: UN chief urges calm as death toll rises

What sparked the violence?

  • The fighting broke out during a power struggle between Sudan armed forces and the Rapid Support Forces, two different groups of the military dictatorship that deposed previous dictator Omar al-Bashir in 2019.
  • The RSF is a paramilitary organization founded by Bashir to quell a revolt in Darfur, an area racked by decades of conflict and atrocities.
  • The armed forces and the RSF worked together to depose Bashir but battled over the transition to a civilian-led government, which was disrupted by a coup in October 2021.

Sudan in turmoil: UN chief urges calm as death toll rises

Who are the main actors?

  • The primary players are General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, Sudan’s de facto leader and head of the armed forces, and General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, also known as Hemedti, the RSF leader and deputy head of the military council.
  • Both men claim possession of critical government facilities such as the presidential palace, military headquarters, and the airport.
  • Other actors include the pro-democracy movement, which spearheaded protests against Bashir and the coup, regional and international countries with interests and influence in Sudan, and humanitarian organizations that aid civilians.

What are the implications for the region and the world?

  • Sudan’s violence threatens to destabilize the country and the region, as the country shares borders with nine other countries and shelters millions of refugees fleeing surrounding crises.
  • The violence also jeopardizes the peace process in Darfur and other areas affected by conflict and displacement.
  • The international world has condemned the riots and called for a peaceful conclusion, as well as expressed worry about the humanitarian situation and violations of human rights.

How are civilians coping with the crisis?

  • Many civilians have been killed, injured, or displaced as a result of the violence.
  • They also face food, water, fuel, electricity, and medical supplies shortages, as well as military-imposed internet blackouts and curfews.
  • Some people have joined anti-violence protests and called for a restoration to civilian government, while others have taken refuge in safer locations or neighboring nations.

What is the UN doing to help?

  • The UN has voiced concern over the situation and asked all parties to stop fighting and protect human rights.
  • The United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, has designated a special envoy to Sudan to foster discussion and mediation.
  • Through its agencies and partners, the UN also offers humanitarian assistance to people, as well as peacekeeping operations in Darfur and Abyei.

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