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Don’t abandon Sudan despite other conflicts, pleads Poggo in appeal

26 April 2024

Alamy

Volunteers outside a damaged house in Omdurman, Sudan, last week

Volunteers outside a damaged house in Omdurman, Sudan, last week

AMID fears of a new wave of mass atrocities in Darfur, and warnings that 18 million people are going hungry, the secretary-general of the Anglican Communion, the Rt Revd Anthony Poggo, has appealed to the international community “not to abandon the people of Sudan, despite the focus on conflicts elsewhere”.

The statement was made last Friday in partnership with a number of aid agencies. Setting out the scale of the humanitarian crisis, one year since clashes broke out, it noted that just seven per cent of the UN appeal was funded (News, 19 April).

“Comparing the vast scale of need and the under-funding of the response compared to other major crises, the Pledging Conference must unlock new and additional resources, and prioritise working through diaspora and partnership-based agencies that can get these to local frontline responders,” it said.

“We also call for much more assertive and co-ordinated international engagement in seeking increased humanitarian access — including facilitation of cross-border operations from Chad and South Sudan — diplomatic solutions to achieve an urgent ceasefire, and an end to a conflict that has now created one of the world’s largest hunger crisis in 2024.”

It drew attention to “many positive grassroots efforts to support, including peacebuilding initiatives by religious and traditional leaders and financial provision flowing from the Sudanese diaspora”.

The Roman Catholic aid agency CAFOD, one of the signatories, launched an emergency appeal this week. Many aid agencies had left the country at the outbreak of fighting, CAFOD’s director of participation, Jo Kitterick, said. “Right now, Catholic agencies in the Caritas network that CAFOD is part of, supported by the Church of Sudan, are some of the only organisations able to deliver aid to support the Sudanese people.”

Last Friday, the UN Under-Secretary-General of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, Rosemary DiCarlo, told the Security Council: “This is a crisis of epic proportions; it is also wholly man-made. Both parties had failed to protect civilians, she said, and “allegations of atrocities abound.”

The fighting had been enabled by arms supplied by parties outside Sudan, who were flouting the Council’s sanctions regime, she said. “This is illegal, it is immoral, and it must stop.”

The High Representative for the Silencing the Guns initiative of the African Union Commission, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, told the Security Council: “External support in terms of supply of war material and other means has been the main reason why this war has lasted for so long. It is the elephant in the room. . . It will take more than a generation to rebuild Sudan to its pre-war state.”

In the past year, it is estimated that more than 14,000 people have been killed, and tens of thousands wounded. Half of Sudan’s population — 25 million people — need lifesaving assistance.

There are concerns for the 800,000 civilians in El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur and the last city outside the control of the Rapid Support Forces, in its battle with the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF).

On Tuesday, the president of Refugees International, Jeremy Konyndyk, warned of the “high likelihood of a new wave of mass atrocities”, given “multiple signals of imminent attacks by the Rapid Support Forces” on the city. A battle there would “trigger further violence across the region and throw the population into a deeper crisis”, he said. The RSF had already burned multiple surrounding villages in recent weeks.

The statement named the UAE as the supplier of arms to the RSF, and Egypt and Iran as the financial supporters of the SAF. It called for an emergency Security Council session and “clear denouncement of the UAE and other actors continuing to enable atrocities across Sudan, including once again, in Darfur”.

In December, the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, ruled that members of the SAF and the RSF had committed war crimes in Sudan, and that members of the RSF and allied militias had committed crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing.

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