Call for immediate cessation of armed conflict in Sudan and call for action from the international community

On the morning of Saturday, April 15, armed conflicts broke out between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in the Sudanese capital Khartoum.

More than 400 civilians have been killed and 3,500 wounded in the fighting that has spread across the capital city of Khartoum and other areas. Many civilians, including our Sudanese staff and their families, have been unable to leave their homes or evacuate the area where the fighting is taking place. In addition to blackout and water outage, logistics have been suspended, and food and drinking water supplies have run out. Attacks on hospitals are also rampant, and many hospitals have been forced to shut down and are unable to care for injured civilians. UN agencies and NGO offices have been attacked and looted, aid activities have been suspended, and international staff have begun to flee the country.

As an NGO implementing humanitarian assistance in Sudan, we call on the fighting parties to do the following and call for strong action from the international community.

  1. Immediately enforce a humanitarian ceasefire to evacuate civilians to safe areas.

  2. In accordance with international humanitarian law, the fighting parties must protect civilians. Attacks on civilians, occupation of civilian homes, bombardment and airstrikes on urban areas, and attacks on and occupation of hospitals are not tolerated.

  3. End attacks on humanitarian facilities, attacks on aid workers and obstruction of humanitarian operations so that the wounded and displaced persons receive the assistance they need.

Background of the recent fighting and the involvement of the international community

We have been based in Sudan since 2006 and have continued to support the livelihood of internally displaced persons due to conflict. In addition to the regular national army (SAF), the Sudanese government has a paramilitary organization (RSF). The two forces competed for leadership and were involved in internal conflicts, which in some ways made the conflict more intense and complicated.

With the fall of the long-term dictatorship in 2019 and the start of the civilian transition process, the Sudanese people found hope for democratization and an end to the conflict in the country. However, the military (the transitional military council, an alliance between the SAF and the RSF) refused to hand over political power to the democratic forces, which received overwhelming civilian support, and chaos continued. In 2021, a military coup was launched, and the military attempted to eliminate the democratic forces. Later, in December 2022, an agreement was reached to transfer civilian power again, but the conflict between the SAF and the RSF escalated over the reorganization of the armed forces that was included in the agreement. It has become the worst form of full-scale conflict while involving citizens in the capital and other cities.

The conflict between the SAF and the RSF is also a struggle over interests. It is said that both sides have been acquiring political interests since the time of the former dictatorship and have been making profits from military-related businesses. In particular, the RSF is known for its mercenary business, including gold mining in Darfur and deployment to the war in Yemen. Many people join mercenaries out of necessity due to poverty. The political, economic, and military system that forced people to live a difficult life while privatizing the state continued, and the dissatisfaction of the citizens spread at once in the movement of democratization after 2019.

The conflict between the SAF and the RSF involves many foreign countries, including neighboring ones which have supported and had business dealings with them. The countries that have influence over both militaries bear considerable responsibility for this conflict.

The international community should not allow foreign support for the two militaries and should step up efforts to reach a ceasefire. As a current member of the UN Security Council, we expect the Japanese government to be actively involved, not only in cooperation with the G7 countries, but also in reaching out to the international community, including neighboring countries in the Middle East and Africa and China, which has influence over Sudan.

Japan International Volunteer Center (JVC)

April 24, 2023

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