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Faith Nyasuguta

The United Nations Security Council on Thursday, June 13, adopted a resolution demanding that Sudan’s paramilitary force immediately cease its siege of El Fasher, the last major city in the western region of Darfur that it does not control. Over a million people are reportedly trapped in the city.

The resolution, sponsored by Britain, was approved with a vote of 14-0, with Russia abstaining. It calls on the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and the Sudanese military to seek an immediate cessation of hostilities, aiming to end their prolonged conflict that began over a year ago

The resolution expresses “grave concern” over the escalating violence and credible reports of the RSF engaging in “ethnically motivated violence” in El Fasher and previously in El Geneina, West Darfur.

Following the vote, Britain’s U.N. Ambassador Barbara Woodward emphasized that the resolution sends a clear message: the RSF must immediately end the siege of El Fasher, and all parties must de-escalate. She warned that an attack on the city would be catastrophic for the 1.5 million people sheltering there, stressing that the brutal and unjust conflict must end.

The UN Security Council has called for an end to the siege of El-Fasher in Sudan /AFP/

Sudan descended into conflict in mid-April 2023 when longstanding tensions between the 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.

Two decades ago, Darfur was synonymous with genocide and war crimes, notably by the Janjaweed Arab militias against populations identifying as Central or East African. Up to 300,000 people were killed, and 2.7 million were displaced. This dark legacy appears to have resurfaced, with International Criminal Court prosecutor Karim Khan stating in January that there are grounds to believe both sides may be committing war crimes, crimes against humanity, or genocide in Darfur.

The RSF was formed from Janjaweed fighters by former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who ruled Sudan for three decades before being ousted during a popular uprising in 2019. The ICC seeks al-Bashir on charges of genocide and other crimes from the Darfur conflict in the 2000s.

The resolution demands that the RSF and government forces ensure the protection of civilians, including allowing those wishing to move within or leave El Fasher for safer areas to do so. It also calls on all nations to halt actions that fuel conflict and instability, reminding countries supplying weapons to the combatants that they are violating a U.N. arms embargo and could face sanctions.

U.N. political chief Rosemary DiCarlo told the council on April 19 that the war has been fueled by weapons from foreign supporters who continue to disregard U.N. sanctions. She stated, “This is illegal, it is immoral, and it must stop.” 

/Nothern Public Radio/

While she did not name any foreign supporters, Gen. Abdel Fattah Burhan, who led a military takeover of Sudan in 2021, is a close ally of Egypt’s president, former army chief Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi. In February, Sudan’s foreign minister held talks in Tehran with his Iranian counterpart amid unconfirmed reports of drone purchases for government forces.

Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, the leader of the RSF, has reportedly received support from Russia’s Wagner mercenary group. U.N. experts noted in a recent report that the RSF has also gained support from allied Arab communities and established new military supply lines through Chad, Libya, and South Sudan.


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Faith Nyasuguta

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