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  • Jehanne Henry & Najlaa Ahmed

A year on: War, famine and genocidal acts all ignored in Sudan. Where is international leadership?

This 15 April marks one year since a power-war erupted between the Sudanese Army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces in Sudan's capital, Khartoum. One year on, the leaders continue to fight fiercely in numerous locations with little regard for civilian life. Far from a war between two generals, the belligerents are targeting civilians based on their gender and identity - recruiting them to take sides and playing them off one another.


Their war has had devastating effects on Khartoum and its suburbs and other towns and villages across the country. The belligerents have used explosives and air raid bombings in populated areas, looted extensively, occupied homes, destroyed hospitals and schools and committed a wide range of human rights abuses including mass killings based on ethnicity.

Illustration showing civilians fleeing an urban area in Sudan

Partners on the ground tell us that the war is changing due to intensification of group identities and polarisation, with fears that mass atrocities could escalate and spread further along ethnic lines.

Meanwhile women’s rights groups have reported hundreds of cases of sexual and gender-based violence by armed groups, and the number is far greater given under-reporting and near total destruction of health facilities. 


Such patterns are risk factors for escalation and wider atrocities, and point the urgency of the situation. Violence against individuals or groups based on their real or perceived identity -- including gender, ethnicity, religion, or political affiliation -- is particularly insidious because it inflicts physical harm while also destroying the very fabric of communities, perpetuating cycles of hatred and insecurity.


Tens of thousands have died so far, though reliable figures are not available. Communications blackouts have undermined efforts to document the casualties, ensuring the full extent of violations in Sudan remains shrouded in silence.


More than 8 million people have had to flee their homes, often multiple times, making Sudan the world’s largest displacement crisis. The head of the WFP warned Sudan will be the world’s largest hunger crisis unless fighting stops and aid gets in. Yet both sides continue to harass or attack aid workers, sometimes due to their ethnicity, and block or divert aid.


On March 8, the UN security council finally passed a resolution calling for a ceasefire and unhindered humanitarian aid. But with all eyes on Gaza and Ukraine, attention was fleeting.  But this has to change. The international community must redouble efforts to end the violence and ongoing horrific abuses.


They should focus on the most pressing priorities: a humanitarian ceasefire, unfettered aid for those in need, and an end to crimes against civilians. They should also ensure comprehensive fact-finding, identifying those responsible and taking steps to combat the impunity that makes them possible.


Map of Sudan with the words "Keep Eyes on Sudan" in the middle.


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