World must back Jeddah process to end Sudan conflict

In spite of several ceasefire attempts, the conflict in Sudan continues to escalate. It is extremely important that the international community immediately acts and strongly supports the mediated talks in Jeddah in an effort to bring an end to the war.

It has been more than 100 days since the conflict between the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces militia broke out and it continues to rage without any resolution in sight.

First of all, it is crucial to immediately take action as a result of the humanitarian catastrophe in the country, which is impacting millions of people. As Concern Worldwide’s A.K.M. Musha warned: “We need urgent action to ease the suffering of millions of Sudanese people and prevent further deaths. It is no exaggeration to say we are facing a humanitarian catastrophe — the entire country is suffering and is affected. Over 3.3 million have fled their homes for safety. People are still on the move and the fighting is continuing. Everyone in Sudan is facing uncertainty, the areas where people can be sure they will be safe are very limited. Nobody knows how this will pan out or where it is heading to.”

More than half of the population is currently in need of humanitarian assistance. This is why it is important to chart a path that allows the international community to open corridors to permit humanitarian aid and medical assistance to enter the areas that are impacted and to allow the evacuation of civilians from the conflict zone.

In addition, the conflict has led to large-scale displacements, sexual violence, families being separated and even shot while attempting to flee the war and homes being looted, while doctors are experiencing significant difficulties in terms of treating patients, lacking medical equipment, supplies, water and electricity.

It is crucial to immediately take action as a result of the humanitarian catastrophe in the country

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh

The conflict has inflicted a considerable amount of damage on the healthcare system, with nearly 70 percent of hospitals currently not operational. Attacks on doctors have been on the rise. The Sudan Doctors’ Union reported this week that a number of attacks have taken place on “hospitals and medical staff recently, including (an) attack on Friday on the staff from the Doctors Without Borders NGO. They were beaten while they were delivering medical aid to the Turkish hospital south of Khartoum, their vehicle was looted, and the organization’s driver was arrested.”

One of the major threats that the continuation of the conflict poses is that the war could lead to the total disintegration and collapse of the state in Sudan. This would not only be a significant threat to the Sudanese people, but also to other countries as well as regional and global security and stability. On the global level, according to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, when states collapse, they can become “safe havens for terrorist organizations, centers for the trade of drugs and arms, and breeding grounds for dangerous diseases. Regionally, they can spill instability well past their borders and create a conflict dynamic affecting neighboring countries.”

There are already reports of some militia groups gaining power and committing egregious human rights violations. According to Sudan’s General Intelligence Service, several suspected members of Daesh were killed in a raid that was carried out by security forces in the capital Khartoum.

Furthermore, the threat of a refugee crisis should not be underestimated if the war continues. The refugee crisis is already impacting the social, political and economic landscapes of several other countries, particularly those that share a border with Sudan — Libya, Egypt, Chad, the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Eritrea. The humanitarian situation and the refugee crisis could worsen if the international community does not take the conflict seriously and it is not quickly resolved.

While diplomacy appears to have fallen short, it is still the most effective approach to bring an end to the conflict in Sudan.

One way to expedite the peacemaking process would be for other countries and organizations, including the African Union, to firmly join Saudi Arabia in its attempts to resolve the conflict. The Kingdom has been playing a key role as mediator. Other nations, particularly those impacted by the conflict, ought to seriously consider acting on Saudi Arabia’s initiative.

The Kingdom has introduced the Jeddah Declaration of Commitment to Protect the Civilians of Sudan. Some of the important points in Saudi Arabia’s plan is that it is based on international human rights law and it places an emphasis on making a distinction between civilians and combatants, ensuring the safe passage of civilians, protecting medical personnel, allowing humanitarian relief to reach the population, and preventing the recruitment of children as soldiers in the war. The Sudan Tribune pointed out that the Jeddah declaration was aimed at resolving the Sudanese conflict and “resulted in the negotiation of a declaration of principle and three truce agreements.”

In a nutshell, there needs to be a greater sense of urgency about bringing the dangerous three-month war in Sudan to an end. This requires coordinated, swift actions by the international community. The only existing and viable initiative to resolve the conflict is the Jeddah-mediated talks. The most effective approach would be for other countries to firmly join and support the Jeddah process.

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