Sudan: Appeal calls for ‘urgent humanitarian assistance and protection of civilians’

May 23, 2023
Protest for Sudan in Sydney
Protesting in solidarity with Sudan, in Sydney, in 2019. Photo: Green Left

Members of the Sudanese diaspora in Britain, the United States, Canada and Australia launched an appeal on May 15 to world leaders, human rights organisations, the United Nations, Nobel laureates and “peace loving peoples of all countries and regions” for “urgent humanitarian assistance, support and protection of civilians” in Sudan.

Fighting between rival military factions, led by Abdelfattah Al-Burhan — Commander in Chief of the Sudanese Armed Forces and President of Sudan’s Supreme Council — and Mohamed Hamdan Hemeti — leader of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and Deputy President of the Supreme Council — broke out on Saturday, April 15.

Since then, Sudan has become “a state-less state as the preexisting de facto ruling regime of the coup d’état has suddenly collapsed and vanished”, leaving the Sudanese people, especially in the tri-state area comprising the capital city Khartoum without the presence of authorities “whose primary responsibility is to provide basic services such as water and power supplies, food and health care as well as policing services, public order and protection of civilians.

“Even before the outbreak of war, hunger and food insecurity were looming nationwide according to the projections of the World Food Programme,” the appeal said.

As of May 15, “the number of casualties among innocent civilians is staggering, coupled with countless life-threatening injuries all over the country. Mass displacement of people has already become the norm. Many families and individuals continue to flee the conflict to neighboring countries despite the high risks they face.

“The most alarming aspect of this war is the fact that it defines itself as an urban warfare taking place in and around densely populated neighborhoods in the capital city Khartoum and elsewhere countrywide. As such, it continues to employ indiscriminate targeting, shelling and bombarding of civilian populations, with a special vicious focus on civilian infrastructures such as water stations, power plants, central markets, hospitals and health care facilities.

“Consequently, approximately 6,344,000 residents of Khartoum are left without water, access to food supplies or health care services, as many hospitals are forced to close. Even kidney, heart disease and cancer patients and those suffering from other life-threatening illnesses had to be discharged from dysfunctional hospitals and other specialist health care facilities.

“Among the most worrisome developments in this connection, systematic targeting, abduction and taking hostage of doctors had started since April 23. In tandem, chaos and looting of scarce remaining health care equipment and supplies have also become the norm, with special focus on looting first aid and life-saving medical supplies.

“Meanwhile, civilian populations are trapped and sieged in crossfire and indiscriminate heavy shelling compounded with air strikes. In result, free movement, even for purchasing necessary food supplies or bringing drinking water directly from the River Nile, or burying the fallen victims is impeded and prohibited at gunpoint!

“Thus, Khartoum and several regional capital cities have turned abruptly into lifeless and inhabitable urban centers. Fleeing these highly life-threatening war zones is now increasingly impossible as the highways are particularly hazardous.”

With the departure of foreign diplomatic personnel, “innocent civilian Sudanese people are left alone in the face of the ruthless devilish belligerents”.

“In the process, both parties to the conflict, ironically, the same two Generals and former leaders of the notorious Janjaweed militias in Darfur 2003–05, whose hands are blood-stained with genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, are wreaking havoc in this brutal urban warfare, using the same vicious scorched earth tactics, marked with untold human rights violations that are not limited to mass killing, indiscriminate shooting, forceful disappearance of persons, along with massive internal displacement waves, all in total absence of the law enforcement personnel who are put on open leave, at least in Khartoum.

“Therefore, insecurity is predominant while women, girls and children continue to bear the brunt of this warfare as is the case in all armed conflicts worldwide.

“Amidst unprecedented chaos in the capital city Khartoum and deliberate attacks on prisons, including Kober Prison in Khartoum North, high-profile criminals, including the former president, Omer Al-Bashir other ICC [International Criminal Court] indictees on arrest warrants as well as leading figures in the former regime escaped from prison on April 23.

“Since then, they posed as national heroes and the ‘saviors’ of Sudan. They vowed to engage zealously in the ongoing armed conflict.”

The Sudanese people have already been “let down by the international community in our genuine quest to transition to civilian rule, democracy, peace and freedom as envisioned in our continued revolution that was started back in December 2018”, said the appeal.

“The misguided course of action and foreign policies towards the Sudan in the aftermath of toppling down the former military dictatorship on April 11 2019 are among the main factors of the dangerous political setback that plunged the country into this raging full-fledged war. It could be even worse and more perilous should it escalate to a nationwide civil war along religious, ethnic and geographical affiliations.

“Premonitions of such a catastrophic scenario are already out there in the heightened tensions and increasing hate rhetoric.

“Given the geostrategic location of Sudan as a corridor to Africa and the Middle East alike, its vicinity to the Horn of Africa region, west and east Africa, a destabilised Sudan would inevitably pose a serious threat to regional and international peace and security.

“Against this backdrop, a nimble and responsible response from the international community, led by the United Nations bodies, programs and agencies is urgently needed.

“While disengaging our Anti-War Campaign from both parties to the conflict, we call on the human conscience generally, to show in concrete actions, not only words, a wholehearted sense of human empathy, solidarity, fraternity and support of the embattled Sudanese people.”

The appeal calls on world leaders and the international community to:

  1. Exercise utmost pressure on both belligerent Generals for an immediate and unconditional humanitarian ceasefire and truce to be closely monitored by relevant UN entities on the ground.
  2. Establish an immediate lifeline for Sudan, coupled with establishing a humanitarian fund for immediate rehabilitation of damaged civilian infrastructures such as power plants and drinking water stations.
  3. Ensure safety and freedom of movement for persons, goods and services, particularly, medical personnel, vehicles and equipment.
  4. Deploy and provide for alternative contingency health care facilities (emergency field clinics and hospitals) while seeking to reopen closed or damaged health care facilities.
  5. Ensure the safety of care providers on the ground, including funeral services.
  6. Work expeditiously and vigorously towards de-escalation and ending the war in such a way that ultimately leads to finding a Sudanese-owned and Sudanese-led solution conducive for a genuine transition to civilian rule, freedom, peace and justice.
  7. Devise and establish all possible necessary mechanisms for the protection of civilians.
  8. Monitor, document, investigate and prohibit human rights violations, war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the armed conflicts by both parties.
  9. This is particularly important for inevitable prosecution of and accountability for all current and past crimes committed in flagrant violation of the international human law, the international human rights law, as well as the Rome statute.
  10. Hold the de facto regime authorities accountable for the escape of ICC indictees and other high-profile criminals from prison.

[Read the full appeal here.]

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