What's In Blue

Posted Mon 17 Jun 2024

Sudan: Briefing and Consultations*

Tomorrow morning (18 June), the Security Council will hold an open briefing, followed by closed consultations on Sudan. The meeting is being held pursuant to resolution 2715 of 1 December 2023, which terminated the mandate of the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan. Assistant Secretary-General for Africa in the Departments of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and Peace Operations (DPPA-DPO) Martha Ama Akyaa Pobee, Director of OCHA’s Operations and Advocacy Division Edem Wosornu, and a civil society representative will brief in the open chamber. Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General for Sudan Ramtane Lamamra will brief during the closed consultations.* Sudan is expected to participate under rule 37 of the Council’s provisional rules of procedure. The Republic of Korea (ROK), the Council’s president for June and one of the signatories to the Shared Commitments on Women, Peace and Security (WPS), has chosen to have a WPS focus for tomorrow’s meeting.

Council members that have signed on to the Shared Commitments on WPS—Ecuador, France, Guyana, Japan, Malta, the ROK, Sierra Leone, Slovenia, Switzerland, the UK, and the US—are expected to read a joint statement ahead of the meeting. The statement is likely to condemn the persisting sexual and gender-based violence in Sudan, including the targeting of women and girls based on ethnicity. It may also stress the importance of a survivor-centred approach and empowering women’s participation in peace and security processes.

Sudan remains mired in a deadly conflict that broke out in April 2023 between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), headed by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, Sudan’s military leader, and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a paramilitary group led by General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo. As at 17 May, more than 16,650 people had been killed since the onset of the conflict, according to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project, a non-governmental organisation that collects conflict-related data. However, several reports suggest that the number of casualties may be significantly higher. Since the onset of the conflict, approximately 9.2 million people have been displaced, 1.9 million of whom have sought refuge in Sudan’s neighbouring countries—the Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia, and South Sudan.

The hostilities have persisted across multiple frontlines, including in and around Khartoum, Al Jazirah, Kordofan, and White Nile. Since early April, fighting between the SAF joined by the joint force of the armed movements (a coalition of armed movements from Darfur) and the RSF has been particularly severe in El Fasher, the capital city of North Darfur and the only capital in the Darfur region that is not under the RSF’s control. In an 8 June post on X (formerly Twitter), Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) reported that since 10 May, at least 192 people had been killed and more than 1,230  wounded in El Fasher. At tomorrow’s meeting, the briefers and several members are likely to express grave concern about the escalating violence in North Darfur, particularly the inter-ethnic component of the fighting. They may welcome the adoption of resolution 2736 of 13 June that called for an immediate halt to the fighting and for de-escalation in and around El Fasher and reiterate some of its key messages, while calling for its full implementation. (For background and more information, see the Sudan brief in our June 2024 Monthly Forecast and What’s in Blue stories of 28 April, 23 May, and 13 June.)

The briefers and several Council members are expected to condemn the ongoing violence in other parts of the country and reiterate the call for an immediate cessation of hostilities. They may also emphasise the crucial need to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure, including healthcare facilities and medical and humanitarian personnel. In this regard, the briefers and several members may raise the 5 June attack carried out by RSF forces on Wad al-Noura village, located in the western part of Al Jazirah state. Although the exact number of casualties is apparently disputed, some estimates suggest that at least 104 people were killed. According to UNICEF, at least 35 children were killed and more than 20 injured during the attack. In a 6 June statement, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan Clementine Nkweta-Salami said that there are credible reports of heavy gunfire and the use of explosive weapons in populated civilian areas, adding that “[e]ven by the tragic standards of Sudan’s conflict, the images emerging from Wad al-Noura are heart-breaking”. She called for a thorough investigation and for those responsible to be held accountable.

Wosornu may describe recent efforts by the UN and partner agencies to deliver humanitarian aid across Sudan. On 13 June, a World Food Programme (WFP) convoy carrying aid for approximately 160,000 people residing in Central, East, and West Darfur crossed the Tine border crossing from Chad. A 14 June OCHA press release said that WFP food distributions were underway for more than 50,000 people in South Darfur, as well as for an estimated 200,000 people in Al Jazirah, for the first time since December 2023, when the conflict spread to Wad Medani, the state’s capital. (For background, see our 21 December 2023 What’s in Blue story.)

At tomorrow’s meeting, the briefers and several Council members are likely to reiterate the critical need to ensure full and rapid humanitarian access through all modalities—including cross-line (across conflict lines within Sudan) and cross-border (across Sudan’s borders with some of its neighbouring countries)—and criticise impediments to such access. In her remarks following the adoption of resolution 2736, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield (US) said that if the warring parties fail to facilitate humanitarian access, the Security Council “should take action to ensure life-saving aid is delivered and distributed, by considering all tools at its disposal, including authorizing aid to move from neighboring countries”. Other members, such as China and Russia, may highlight tomorrow the efforts undertaken by the Sudanese authorities to facilitate humanitarian access.

Wosornu may reiterate concerns about the dire food insecurity situation in the country. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths, in his 12 June statement ahead of the meeting of the leaders of the Group of Seven (G7)—comprising Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the UK, and the US—said that at least five million people remain at the brink of starvation in Sudan, with more than 40 hunger hotspots at high risk of slipping into famine in the next month, including in parts of Al Jazirah, Darfur, Khartoum and Kordofan. He called on G7 leaders to immediately “bring their substantial political leverage and financial resources to bear so that aid organizations can reach all people in need”.

At tomorrow’s meeting, the briefers and several Council members might call for enhanced funding from the international community to support the humanitarian response in Sudan, including famine response. At the time of writing, Sudan’s 2024 Humanitarian Response Plan, requiring $2.70 billion, was 16.3 percent funded.

Lamamra is expected to provide an update on the ongoing regional and international efforts aimed at resolving the crisis and on his engagement with the warring parties and key regional and international interlocutors. Members may be interested in hearing Lamamra’s assessment of the prospects for de-escalation and dialogue and his efforts to coordinate the different initiatives aimed at resolving the crisis in Sudan.

On 30 May, Lamamra concluded a visit to Port Sudan, where he met al-Burhan and other senior officials. In a post on X (formerly Twitter), Lamamra said that the meeting focused on the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in Sudan, particularly in El Fasher. The Personal Envoy also reportedly discussed ongoing consultations to resume negotiations between the warring parties and his efforts to coordinate the initiatives. Lamamra also met with a delegation representing the RSF in Nairobi on 1 June, where they discussed means to promote the protection of civilians and the peace-making process.

On 12 June, the League of Arab States (LAS) convened a consultative meeting in Cairo on strengthening coordination among the different peace initiatives. The meeting was attended by Lamamra, as well as representatives from the AU, the EU, and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), among others. In his opening remarks, LAS Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said that the meeting aimed at exchanging views on and drawing lessons from different peace initiatives, good offices, and mediation efforts as well as discussing ways to enhance coordination mechanisms and harmonise efforts.

Tomorrow, Lamamra and some members may underline the need to support and bolster the efforts of civilian stakeholders. In this regard, they may take note of the efforts undertaken by the AU High-Level Panel on Sudan to convene an all-inclusive Sudanese political dialogue. On 28 May, Egypt also reportedly announced that it plans to host a conference in June that would bring together Sudan’s civilian political groups with other regional and global parties.

Some members may also reiterate the call, contained in resolution 2736, for all member states to refrain from external interference “which seeks to foment conflict and instability”. During the 13 June Council briefing on the work of the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Joonkook Hwang (the ROK), who serves as the committee’s chair, said in his national capacity that “[w]e are receiving the observation of the panel of experts about a considerable amount of supply and use of foreign weapons in Darfur on a daily basis”. He called on Council members to collectively take concrete action to guarantee the effective implementation and strengthening of the current sanctions regime. Russia, however, argued that Council sanctions have failed to stabilise the situation in Darfur. It expressed the view that “any restrictions imposed by the Security Council, especially if we consider the option of expanding them, will not bring peace closer”.

Council members may raise concerns about violations against children in Sudan. It appears that the Security Council’s Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict discussed the matter under “any other business” during a 14 June meeting, at the request of the UK (the penholder on Sudan). The Secretary-General’s annual report on children and armed conflict, dated 3 June, which covers developments in 2023, verified 1,721 grave violations committed against 1,526 children in Sudan, a 480 percent increase compared with 2022. (The six grave violations, as determined by the Security Council, are child recruitment and use; killing and maiming; rape and other forms of sexual violence; attacks on schools and hospitals; abductions; and the denial of humanitarian access.) Among other things, the report documented cases of sexual violence perpetrated against 114 girls, identifying the RSF and allied Arab militias as responsible for 72 such acts.

In the annexes to his report, the Secretary-General listed the RSF for recruitment and use, killing and maiming, rape and other forms of sexual violence, and attacks on schools and hospitals. The report also lists the SAF for killing and maiming and attacks on schools and hospitals.


*Post-script: After the story’s publication, Assistant Secretary-General for Africa in the Departments of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and Peace Operations (DPPA-DPO) Martha Ama Akyaa Pobee was added as a briefer at the open briefing. The story was amended to reflect this change.

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