The ongoing conflict in Sudan has reached a critical juncture, with growing concerns that the nation could be on the brink of division, according to General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the head of Sudan’s army.
During a visit to Egypt, Burhan warned that if the conflict is not resolved soon, it could lead to more friction in the northeast and result in the fragmentation of Sudan. He stressed the urgent need to resolve the “disastrous war”.
“Sudan is facing a war that needs to be resolved quickly, or the country will be fragmented,” Burhan stated.
The conflict began in April after a military coup last October disrupted Sudan’s fragile transition to civilian rule. Fighting has since spread from the capital Khartoum to other towns and regions.
“Sudan is targeted by a major conspiracy to destroy it and undermine its unity,” al-Burhan said during a meeting with police officers in the eastern Red Sea state.
Clashes between forces led by Burhan and those of Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, leader of the Rapid Support Forces, have killed nearly 5,000 people according to the UN. Entire communities have been cut off and humanitarian access jeopardized.
Radhouane Nouicer, the UN’s Designated Expert on the Situation of Human Rights in Sudan, stated in a press conference in Addis Ababa that the death toll from the conflict has risen to more than the UN previous estimate.
However, according to Nouicer, the true number of casualties is likely significantly higher.
Many victims have been unable to access healthcare as entire communities remain cut off from the rest of the world. Humanitarian access has also been jeopardized, Nouicer noted.
“Every single day we are witnessing human casualties, violent destruction and displacement,” he said grimly.
With ongoing fighting in many areas, food shortages and breakdowns of health services have occurred. Reports of increased sexual violence are also troubling.
There are fears the war could have regional impacts and exacerbate conflicts along ethnic, religious and political lines. Violence targeting ethnic groups has increased.
The UN warns of “inhumane” acts becoming common, including massive killings, village burnings and looting of hospitals. Over 4.6 million people have been displaced within Sudan or to neighboring countries due to the violence.
Division of the country would aggravate the dire humanitarian situation and instability, making aid even more difficult. It could also allow space for extremists to gain influence, according to UN officials. As the conflict reaches a tipping point, there are growing concerns Sudan may not remain intact.