The UN special envoy for Sudan – who was not welcomed by the country’s military rulers – resigned in a final speech to the UN Security Council, warning that conflict between rival military rulers of Sudan “could turn into a full-scale civil war. .”
Volker Perthes, who has continued to work outside Sudan, said the fighting shows no signs of slowing down, with neither side appearing close to a “decisive military victory”.
He also highlighted that violence in Sudan’s western Darfur region “has worsened significantly”, with civilians being targeted because of their ethnicity.
Tensions between the Sudanese army, led by General Abdel Fattah Burhan, and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, commanded by General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, escalated into open fighting in April.
At least 5,000 people have been killed since then and more than 12,000 injured, Perthes said, while calling those numbers conservative and saying the real number “is probably much higher.”
The UN envoy said there were at least 13 mass graves in and around Geneina, the capital of West Darfur province, according to credible information received by the UN Joint Human Rights Office. man.
The graves are the result of attacks carried out by the RSF and its Arab Janjaweed allies against civilians, mainly from African communities, Perthes said.
International and regional actors must coordinate ways and means to encourage the parties to accept a lasting cessation of hostilities. Most importantly, in this context, I urge Member States to stem the flow of arms to Sudan and refrain from resupplying either party. pic.twitter.com/ZTy6AhdZyz
— United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (@UNITAMS) September 13, 2023
Atrocities in Darfur
The western region of Darfur was the scene of a genocidal campaign in the early 2000s.
More than 20 million people, almost half of Sudan’s population, suffer from acute hunger and food insecurity, according to the director of operations of the United Nations humanitarian office, Edem Wosornu.
Wosornu told the council: “More than 6 million people are now one step away from starvation… If the fighting continues, this potential tragedy moves closer to reality every day. »
The conflict has forced more than 4 million people to flee their homes to other places in Sudan and more than a million to seek refuge in neighboring countries, Wosornu said, stressing that displacement and insecurity “have taken a toll cases of sexual violence at worrying levels.”
‘Persona non grata’
Perthes was a key mediator after the conflict began, but the military government claimed he was biased and informed UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on June 8 that he had been declared persona non grata .
The UN denounced the move, saying a member of its staff cannot be declared persona non grata – which is unacceptable to the government – and that it goes against the UN Charter.
In announcing his resignation, Perthes – who was appointed special representative for Sudan in January 2021 – urged the warring parties to end the fighting and warned them “that they cannot operate with impunity”.
“There will be accountability for the crimes committed,” he said.
Meanwhile, Secretary-General Guterres told a news conference that he had accepted Perthes’ resignation, saying, without elaborating, that the envoy “has very good reasons to resign.”
Perthes also warned of “the risk of a fragmentation of the country”, highlighting a myriad of crises, notably in Darfur, the cross-border mobilization of Arab tribes, the fighting in the provinces of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile between Sudanese army and rebels, and growing tensions in eastern Sudan amid ongoing tribal mobilization.
He also added – referring to Sudan’s longtime autocratic leader Omar al-Bashir, who was deposed in a popular uprising in 2019 – that “the mobilization of elements of the old regime calling for a continuation of the war is particularly worrying.