Experts are warning that fighting between two rival generals in Sudan could have far-reaching consequences for the country and the already unstable region. The clashes erupted on April 15 between army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his deputy, Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, the commander of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces. Violence quickly escalated, with hundreds of people killed and thousands wounded across the vast country. Analysts warn the conflict could draw in foreign armed groups and regional powers, triggering a new refugee crisis.
Between 10,000 and 20,000 people have already fled fighting to Sudan’s western neighbour Chad. Eastern Chad is already hosting 400,000 Sudanese refugees, and the new arrivals are placing additional strain on the country’s resources. Sudan is one of the world’s poorest countries, and in February the UN said over one-third of its population was facing a growing hunger crisis.
The battles spread swiftly, engulfing Khartoum, its twin city Omdurman and several regions of the country, especially Darfur. If the conflict drags on, more people in the extremely fragmented Sudanese society might take up arms. The fighting could also draw in actors who provide funding, weapons “and possibly their own troops or proxies”.
Mediators from the United Nations, the African Union, regional IGAD bloc, and Western and Gulf capitals have been attempting to bring Burhan and Daglo to the negotiating table. So far, efforts have been in vain. The international community and major powers “are getting nothing” when they now call for a ceasefire.