Sudan’s forgotten war which risks destabilising entire region as thousands flee

The war in Sudan, largely forgotten by the West, entered its 100th day on July 24.

The widespread violence is threatening not just civilians in the country counting more than 45 million people, but also the whole region.

Sudan neighbours seven countries – Central African Republic, Egypt, Libya, Chad, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Eritrea – many of which have received thousands of refugees escaping the conflict.

The war displaced within Sudan more than 2.4 million people, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has estimated, while more than 749,000 were forced by the violence to leave the country.

Figures updated by the UNCHR on July 23 showed Egypt alone saw 255,565 Sudanese people crossing its borders, while Chad counted more than 260,000 refugees and asylum seekers arriving from the war-torn neighbouring nation.

READ MORE: ‘Stench of rotting corpses’ lines streets of Sudan during the ‘forgotten’ war

Instability in the region could also be sparked by Sudan’s agricultural wealth.

Moreover, it is feared the war may see Russia, Saudi Arabia and the UAE battling for influence in the country, given Sudanese military leaders have expressed openness to Moscow creating a base on the Red Sea while the Saudis and the UAE are interested in pushing back against Islamist influence in the region.

Within Sudan, the war makes women and children a particularly easy target, with the former facing an increased risk of attacks and gender-based violence while more youngsters are pushed on the brink of malnutrition.

Speaking about gender-based violence in the war-torn nation as he marked the grim milestone, David MacDonald, Sudan Country Director at the organisation CARE said: “The prevalence of gender-based violence rises during times of conflict as safety nets for women and girls, including the rule of law, are severely compromised and even severed.

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“Gender-based violence is widespread; however, it is often shrouded by a culture of shame and impunity and thus remains underreported.”

Mr MacDonald noted access to health care services has been “fraught with challenges” since the beginning of the war.

Armed groups, he said, “have been attacking, looting, and damaging facilities since mid-April and rapidly depleting medical supplies”.

He added: “Attacks on health facilities put additional strain on a sector that was already struggling to put together a comprehensive package on reproductive healthcare.”

Those like CARE trying to bring help to civilians face huge challenges as offices of international agencies and warehouses are being looted and humanitarian workers aren’t easily granted safe access, Mr MacDonald also said.

Calling for the cessation of hostilities, the creation of safe passage to allow the supply of basic goods and services to the community and more funding to support those in need, the NGO leader said the world “cannot afford to look away from the worsening situation in Sudan as it has the potential to destabilise the entire region”.

The conflict in Sudan, led since 2021 by a council of generals, erupted as the country’s armed forces loyal to General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and the paramilitaries of the Rapid Support Forces following General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo disagreed on the proposed move towards civilian rule and the future of the RSF.

The spark that started the conflict was the redeployment around the country of RSF members, a move seen by the army as threatening.

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