U.S. urges end to Sudanese war as humanitarian crisis hits monumental scale

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U.S State Department Special Envoy for Sudan, Tom Perriello: Photo credit: Department of State.

War

By Mark Longyen

The United States government has called for urgent measures to end the war in Sudan, stressing that the humanitarian crisis which trails the conflict has assumed a monumental level.

U.S State Department Special Envoy for Sudan, Tom Perriello, made this known during a digital news conference on Thursday in which the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) was a participant.

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NAN reports that the humanitarian crisis was triggered by the ongoing war between the Sudanese Armed Forces and its breakaway paramilitary Rapid Support Forces.

The conflict erupted in April 2023 between former allies, who had jointly seized power in a 2021 coup.

According to Mr Perriello,  the scale of the crisis in Sudan has not been met by global attention as well as media attention in the Western, African, and Arab world press and beyond. 

He said: “And the Sudanese people could not be more unified and clear.  They want an end to this war now.  They want full humanitarian access.  And they want their future back. 

“And it is our job, all of us who care about the people of Sudan – around the world, around this neighborhood and beyond – to be urgently seized with the project of ending this war, preventing the worst of this famine, and giving the Sudanese people a chance to determine their own future.  

“This is an urgent situation where we are seeing signs of famine already across the country of Sudan.  We have known about horrific atrocities, particularly against women and children, forced recruitment, even slavery in this conflict that must end.”

Envoy Perriello explained that the goal of the U.S mission in Sudan, which is also in tandem with the goal of all the Sudanese civilians spoken, as well as the U.S’ counterparts in governments around the region, was urgent peace in the country. 

He expressed dismay that the situation was getting worse as the rainy season was approaching, and the humanitarian crisis was already at a breaking point.  

“So the only true solution here is to silence the guns, and that is going to require not only General Burhan and General Hemedti to reach that deal but also for all of us across the region to be partners in peace. 

“And particularly for those who have been fueling the conflict rather than fueling the peace efforts, we need that alignment now. 

“And I think that’s the message first and foremost that we’ve been hearing from the Sudanese people and certainly something we’ve been hearing from our counterparts across the region,” Perriello said.

Speaking on how the U.S. planned to coordinate with global and regional partners to advance peace efforts in Sudan, Perriello said that the U.S. had seen several really important efforts across the region. 

“And the role that the Saudis, Saudi Arabia has played in hosting the Jeddah talks, I think, can be an area that brings together pieces that have been emerging in Cairo and in Manama and other places. 

“We hope that will happen as soon as Ramadan is over, that those are inclusive talks of key regional actors as well as key voices from the inside, and that we can reach that agreement not just to end the violence but to really open up to full humanitarian access.  

“But we need to restart formal talks.  So we are looking forward to, hopefully, a restart of those talks as soon as Ramadan has ended,” he said.

The U.S. envoy said the fact that there have been many different initiatives reflected the fact that there was a growing concern across the region and a new sense of urgency. 

“Frankly, we wish that urgency had been there before, but the clear message I’ve been getting, again, from Uganda to Ethiopia to Kenya to Djibouti to Egypt, is everybody understands that this crisis is barreling towards a point of no return. 

“And that means everybody needs to put whatever differences aside and be united in finding a solution to this conflict.  

“I’m speaking to Sudanese every day who’ve just escaped and describe, quote, “hell on Earth,” talk about imminent death. 

“We have a communications blackout in many areas that means people haven’t been able to speak to family members in ages or get good data on how many people are dying of malnourishment.   

“So what we need to do is take the greatest hits, the lessons from these initiatives, see it as a good thing that so many people want to try to solve this conflict, bring that together back into formal talks and get this war ended,” Perriello said.

The Special Envoy expressed dismay about reports of the maltreatment of women in Sudan, which he described as a horrific situation, adding that it had been so since the beginning of this conflict. 

“We know that we’ve had moments where populations like the Masalit have been targeted, and we know that women have borne the brunt of this through sexual violence and targeting and also through the way in which the humanitarian crisis continues to play out.  

“I spoke to a woman recently who escaped and described how women would have to go out to the field to find any amount of food for their family and often be raped, come home, and have to go back to that same field the next day. 

“These abuses are horrific.  They not only need to end, but we need accountability for those who have conducted these atrocities and those who’ve had command-and-control structure over the people committing the atrocities,” he said.

Perriello stressed that the Sudanese people were unified and clear in their desire to take their future back.

He added  that for their wishes to be met, what was needed was for the warring generals to meet and for the international and regional community to act as partners in peace.

He said that the U.S. saw it as very important to engage with the forces involved, adding that she already had partners who were ready to participate in the peace process.

“This is an important thing. We’ll sit down with them to try and make this reality one where civilians determine their own future.”

He said that reports of involvement in the conflict by Iran and some “hard-line” extremist groups were of great concern to the U.S. and  partners, adding that the U.S. was monitoring the situation.

“It’s just one example of something that could take an already disastrous situation and be fuel on the fire that helps to turn it into even a regional war.

“Sudanese people have been clear on this — they don’t want any external engagement adding to the problems.

“The focus is on engaging with those who are “serious” about peace, noting efforts made by Sudan’s neighbors and Saudi Arabia in this regard,” he said.(NAN)

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