Civil war in Sudan takes centre stage at UN

UN report from January cited ‘credible’ evidence outside forces may be arming paramilitary.

A woman and baby at the Zamzam displacement camp
Displaced people take refuge at the Zamzam camp close to el-Fasher in North Darfur, Sudan [File: MSF/Mohamed Zakaria/Handout via Reuters]

Sudan has accused the United Arab Emirates of arming a paramilitary force in the country’s 14-month civil war, prompting a clash at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

Al-Harith Idriss al-Harith Mohamed, Sudan’s UN ambassador, accused the UAE late on Tuesday of arming the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), which has been fighting Sudan’s army since April 2023 and faces accusations of ethnic war crimes.

The Sudanese envoy said Khartoum has evidence of the weapons supply and his government will submit a file on UAE actions to the International Criminal Court.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, he said he had urged the council to “walk the extra mile by naming and shaming the United Arab Emirates”.

Sitting next to Mohamed at the horseshoe-shaped Security Council table, UAE Ambassador Mohamed Abushahab called Sudan’s charge “ludicrous” and designed to distract from “grave violations that are happening on the ground”.

Last stronghold

“If they seek an end to the conflict and civilian suffering, then why won’t they come to the Jeddah talks? Why are they blocking aid? What are you waiting for?” Abushahab asked.

In May, the United States and Saudi Arabia sought to resurrect ceasefire talks in Jeddah that stalled last year due to alleged violations of agreements on both sides. Sudan, however, refused to participate.

Aid agencies, which have warned that Sudan is on the brink of the world’s largest hunger crisis, have said aid is being blocked by all of the warring factions in the country.

In January, a UN report compiled for the UNSC said it had “credible” evidence that the UAE had sent weapons to the RSF “several times per week” via Amdjarass in northern Chad. The UAE denied the accusation.

More than 14,000 people have been killed, 33,000 injured and 10 million people displaced since long-simmering tensions between the Sudanese armed forces and the RSF turned into all-out war last year, according to the UN.

The dispute at the UN on Tuesday came as UN Assistant Secretary-General Martha Pobee warned that atrocities are being committed along ethnic lines in western Sudan’s Darfur region.

She stressed the need to “prevent further atrocities, protect critical infrastructure and alleviate civilian suffering” through an immediate ceasefire in el-Fasher, the capital of North Darfur, which is being besieged by the RSF.

The city of 1.8 million people is the last army stronghold in the Darfur region, which became synonymous with genocide and war crimes about two decades ago when Arab militias that later formed the RSF killed up to 300,000 members of Black ethnic minority groups and displaced millions.

The UNSC last week approved a resolution demanding the RSF halt its siege of el-Fasher and withdraw all fighters who threaten the safety and security of civilians.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies