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Faith Nyasuguta

The Sudanese government has accused the United Arab Emirates (UAE) of exacerbating the ongoing 14-month conflict in Sudan by supplying arms to a rival paramilitary group. In response, the UAE has dismissed these allegations as “ludicrous,” labeling them as “a shameful abuse by one of the warring parties.”

This clash of accusations occurred during a U.N. Security Council meeting, where Assistant Secretary-General Martha Pobee highlighted the grave human rights violations being committed along ethnic lines in Sudan’s western Darfur region. Pobee called for an immediate cease-fire in El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur, which is currently under siege by the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF). She emphasized the need to prevent further atrocities, protect critical infrastructure, and alleviate civilian suffering.

Sudanese Ambassador Al-Harith Mohamed accused the RSF of instigating the conflict with the Sudanese military and targeting civilians with the aid of weapons supplied by the UAE. He stated that Sudan possesses evidence of the UAE’s involvement and intends to submit this evidence to the International Criminal Court.

In response, UAE Ambassador Mohamed Abushahab rejected the allegations as baseless and demanded to know why the Sudanese government refuses to return to peace talks. Directing his comments at the Sudanese ambassador seated beside him at the Security Council’s table, Abushahab said, “You should stop grandstanding in international fora such as this and instead take responsibility for ending the conflict you started.”

U.N. experts monitoring the arms embargo in Darfur reported in January that there was “credible” evidence of the UAE supplying weapons to the RSF multiple times a week from northern Chad. On Tuesday, U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield reiterated a U.S. appeal for all “external actors to stop fueling and prolonging this conflict, and enabling these atrocities, by sending weapons to Sudan.”

After the meeting, Sudan’s Ambassador Mohamed urged the Security Council to “walk the extra mile by naming and shaming the United Arab Emirates.” Edem Wosornu, operations director for the U.N. humanitarian office, told the council that the lives of 800,000 civilians trapped in El Fasher “hang in the balance.” She echoed concerns about the risk of mass atrocities and warned that the violence in the encircled city “is just the tip of the iceberg.” She reported that indiscriminate bombings are affecting millions in Darfur, sexual violence remains rampant, and “famine is imminent.” 

/The Hills Times/

Almost 5 million people face emergency levels of food insecurity, and over 2 million in 41 “hunger hotspots” are at high risk of catastrophic hunger in the coming weeks.

Two decades ago, Darfur became synonymous with genocide and war crimes, particularly those committed by the notorious Janjaweed Arab militias against populations identifying as Central or East African. Up to 300,000 people were killed, and 2.7 million were displaced.

Sudan descended into conflict again in mid-April 2023 when long-simmering tensions between its military and paramilitary leaders erupted in the capital, Khartoum, and spread to other regions, including Darfur. The U.N. reports that over 14,000 people have been killed and 33,000 injured since the conflict began.

The RSF, formed from Janjaweed fighters by former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, has been a significant player in the ongoing conflict. Al-Bashir, who ruled Sudan for three decades before being ousted during a popular uprising in 2019, is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of genocide and other crimes during the Darfur conflict in the 2000s.

Last Thursday, the Security Council adopted a resolution demanding that the RSF immediately halt its siege of El Fasher, the only capital in Darfur it doesn’t control. The council also urged both the paramilitary force and Sudan’s military to seek an immediate cessation of hostilities


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Faith Nyasuguta

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