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Sudan’s silent suffering after a year of “forgotten war”

Sudan’s silent suffering after a year of “forgotten war”

With millions displaced, infrastructure devastated and a pressing risk of famine, Sudan lives a catastrophic situation due to a “forgotten war” among generals, which for a year has left thousands of victims of sexual violence and ethnic, humanitarian workers warn.

The fighting began on April 15, 2023 between the head of the army, Abdel Fatah al Burhan, and his former number two, Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, at the head of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (FAR), and experts do not foresee an end to the conflict.

The northeast African country passes through “one of the worst humanitarian disasters” of recent history and “the largest internal displacement crisis in the world”, according to the United Nations.

More than half of its 48 million inhabitants require humanitarian aid in the face of what could become the “worst hunger crisis in the world”, caused by what humanitarian organizations have described as a “forgotten war”.

“People have been murdered, raped, assaulted, detained, beaten and kidnapped for months. We are used to it”, says Mahmud Mokhtar, who volunteered in the capital Khartoum area before fleeing to Cairo.

Since the war began, thousands of people have been killed. In a single town in the western Darfur region, up to 15,000 people died, according to UN experts.

More than 8.5 million people left their homes, seeking safer places in other parts of Sudan or in neighboring countries.

War “It is brutal, devastating and shows no signs of ending.”said Alex de Waal, an expert in this country.

Even if the violence ends, “The State has collapsed and the road to reconstruction is long and arduous,” he warned.

Before the conflict, Sudan was already one of the poorest countries in the world.

But according to the UN, the humanitarian response program for this country had only obtained a 3.1% of financing, which could barely serve one in ten people in need.

“Landmark of shame”

Of the dozens of NGOs that worked in the country, “There are almost none left,” said Christos Christou, international president of Doctors Without Borders (MSF).

The healthcare system has collapsed and most agricultural land has been left unattended, researchers say.

“The world continues to look the other way”denounced Will Carter, director for Sudan of the Norwegian Refugee Council, one of the few organizations, along with MSF, that maintain their operations.

The anniversary of the war is “a milestone of shame”considered Carter, for whom the international community “has allowed the catastrophe to worsen.”

On the ground, the FAR now controls most of the capital and the Darfur region.

This paramilitary group is the heir to the feared Janjaweed militias, which former dictator Omar al Bashir unleashed to crush an ethnic rebellion.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) indicted Al Bashir for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed since 2003. However, authorities never handed him over after he was overthrown by mass protests in 2019.

“Pure evil”

In the current war, government forces used their air capabilities to bomb positions on the ground, but failed to recover much territory.

An army officer rules out that they can achieve “a final victory.”

Sudanese analyst Mohammed Latif agrees that winning “it is impossible” for either side. “His troops are tired and his supplies exhausted,” he told AFP.

Human rights groups denounce multiple abuses against civilians. “What happens borders on pure evil”said Clementine Nkweta-Salami, UN humanitarian coordinator for Sudan.

A committee of pro-democracy lawyers has documented cases of sexual violence used as a weapon of war and forced recruitment of children.

The ICC says there are “reasons to believe” that both sides are committing atrocities.

International mediation efforts only achieved announcements of truces that were quickly violated.

Western sanctions or a call for a UN Security Council ceasefire last month also failed to work.

Faced with this complex reality, Amer Sohaiel, a displaced person in the Abu Shouk camp in Darfur, only has one hope: “May God help us achieve peace this year.”

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Source: Gestion

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