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Monday, Oct 02, 2023

UN officials warn Security Council of major regional risks of Sudan conflict

UN officials warn Security Council of major regional risks of Sudan conflict

The UN’s “priority” is to assist with peace talks that would end the conflict in Sudan and a return to a transitional civilian government — which would also help stabilize South Sudan and shared areas such as resource-rich Abyei.
This is according to Hanna Serwaa Tetteh, special envoy of the secretary-general for the Horn of Africa, who spoke at a Security Council meeting on Tuesday, where other UN officials also warned of the dire humanitarian and political consequences of the ongoing conflict for Sudan and its southern neighbor.

“The priority now is to stop the fighting between the SAF (Sudanese Armed Forces) and RSF (Rapid Support Forces) that hopefully it would lead to a permanent ceasefire and return to a transitional civilian government,” said Tetteh.

The conflict in Sudan, which started on April 15, has affected the already fragile security situation in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan provinces, as well as in South Sudan.

The SAF is led by Gen. Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan and the RSF by Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo. The RSF is a heavily armed militia that was aligned with the army before the start of the recent conflict.

The ongoing fighting has killed over 600 people, with thousands more injured, according to UN and other international humanitarian groups.

The current fighting could also have a major impact on the fragile ceasefire between Sudan and the Sudan People Liberation Army-North, or SPLA-N, which is led by its longtime leader Abdel Aziz Al-Hilo.

The SPLA-N, which controls the southern province of South Kordofan and partially the Blue Nile province, is seeking Constitutional recognition of the provinces under its control.

Al-Hilo and Al-Burhan had met in January in the capital Khartoum to discuss progress on unity talks and the future of Sudan but with no concrete outcome.

The conflict in Sudan has also impacted relations with South Sudan especially in terms of border security, refugees and the contested area of Abyei. Abyei is a large swathe of tribal lands that sits on the borders of Sudan and South Sudan after partition of Sudan into two countries in 2011.

Before the conflict began, relations were reportedly stable between Khartoum and Juba, the capital of South Sudan, with regular meetings took place at the highest levels, but the conflict in Sudan risks escalating tensions, including over the Abyei region, which is rich in hydrocarbon deposits.

South Sudan has its own delicate security situation and has been engulfed in its own civil war over the past several years. The conflict in the north has heightened the risk of cross-border smuggling of weapons and ammunition, according to UN officials.

“The fighting in Sudan has resulted in the influx of refugees and armed groups into the area,” said Martha Ama Akyaa Pobee, the UN’s assistant secretary-general for Africa, at the Security Council meeting on Tuesday.

The UN Interim Security Force for Abyei, UNISFA, which is in charge of peacekeeping in Abyei, has evacuated some of its personnel from the area because of security concerns, according to Pobee.

Before the start of the conflict there were about 800,000 South Sudanese refugees living in Sudan, but since the fighting began last month about 200,000 have returned to their country in South Sudan along with other Sudanese refugees who fled the fighting and took shelter in neighboring states.

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