NAIROBI, KENYA — Seven months have passed since the war in Sudan broke out, and there is no end in sight.
Mohamed Osman, a researcher for Human Rights Watch who covers Sudan, says there are many reasons this war may go on even longer.
“The culmination of regional and international failure in their engagement in Sudan on one hand but equally on the other hand it speaks volumes to the two generals, Abdel Fatah al-Burhan and Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo Hemedti, and the way they are waging the war with significant civilian harm,” said Osman. “It’s unfortunately something we may continue to see if these generals are not fearing any set of consequences.”
As a humanitarian crisis in the country worsens and ethnic violence escalates in the western region of Darfur, a senior United Nations official warned last Friday that violence against civilians in Sudan is “verging on pure evil.”
Attempts in April to mediate between the two generals — once allies, but now bitter enemies — were largely unsuccessful. U.S. and Saudi Arabian-led cease-fire talks in Jeddah were suspended in June and resumed last month but adjourned again with no cease-fire.
The warring parties did, however, commit to facilitating humanitarian aid and implementing trust-building measures, according to a joint statement by Saudi Arabia, the U.S. and IGAD, the regional East African bloc representing the African Union.
With no mechanism to punish or prevent atrocities, it’s hard to see anything positive coming out of any talks, said Osman said.
“If we are looking at the constellation of the Jeddah process in particular, two things stand out,” he said. “One is the startling lack of civilian representation including from civil society groups, all the protests groups, and other key actors and key voices. And the second thing is, we are not really seeing civilian protection and accountability issue being present at any stage so far.”
On Tuesday, Doctors Without Borders — better known by its French acronym MSF — sounded the alarm on a Sudanese army ban they say is preventing life-saving surgical supplies from being transported in areas of Khartoum controlled by RSF soldiers.
Claire Nicolet, MSF’s deputy manager of emergencies for Sudan, explains the reasons that were given justifying the ban.
“It was a bit unclear but then it was clarified that the idea is for us not to treat RSF soldiers inside these hospitals.,” said Nicolet. “Problem being that most of our patients are not even fighters and problem being as well that a fighter who is wounded is not anymore a fighter anyway by humanitarian law.”
According to MSF, on September 10, when Gorro market in Khartoum was bombed, 43 people were killed, while 60 wounded people were treated at Bashair Teaching Hospital, including women and children.
However, MSF had to stop providing surgery in that facility in October because of the ban, Nicolet told VOA.
Another facility known as the Turkish Hospital is now one of the only facilities in southern Khartoum with a fully functioning operating room. But there are not enough supplies left in the hospital to last even a month, MSF said.
For Khartoum, fighting is still ongoing, said Nicolet. “Our team is still managing to work even though honestly, it’s starting to be more and more complicated because of the lack of supply and the lack of possibility of moving our team in and out at the moment. So, we are still receiving lots of wounded, lots of women for cesarean section and delivering as well. Lots of pediatric patients or children.”
In addition, Nicolet said there are other issues in other parts of the country.
“In Wad Madani…there’s a cholera outbreak at the moment so the team is busy with this,” said Nicolet. “Also, the city receives four times the population they used to have because of people going out of Khartoum…Also, prices in the markets are completely crazy and even for surviving, it’s almost difficult for everyone living in Sudan at the moment.”
During a recent visit to Kenya, Sudanese Army General Al-Burhan held talks with Kenyan President William Ruto, whom he had rejected as a lead mediator from the IGAD bloc earlier in the conflict. Together, they agreed to work towards a framework for ending the war, including finding ways to accelerate the Jeddah process towards a cessation of hostilities in Sudan.