UN Evacuates Staff From Sudan Amid Ongoing Violent Clashes

Smoke is seen rising from a neighborhood in Khartoum, Sudan, Saturday, April 15, 2023.InternationalIndiaAfricaAmid the ongoing violence in Sudan as rival military factions vye for power, the United Nations has announced it will evacuate some of its staff. Much of the international community has called for a ceasefire between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) group.”We will have to evacuate some of our staff, non-essential staff [and] relatives” from Sudan, UN Special Representative Volker Perthes, who also heads the UN mission in Sudan, told journalists on Monday.

According to Perthes, at least 180 people have been killed in the country and more than 1,800 individuals have sustained injuries in recent days.

That violence hasn’t been restricted to Sudanese locals, either: on Monday, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, revealed the EU ambassador to Sudan had been assaulted in his home.“This constitutes a gross violation of the Vienna Convention,” Borrell said, referring to a 1961 agreement stipulating the neutrality of diplomatic officials and properties. “Security of diplomatic premises and staff is a primary responsibility of Sudanese authorities and an obligation under international law.”Violence has long characterized Sudanese politics, which has faced an ongoing political crisis since longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir was forced from power in early 2019. While powerful grassroots groups demanded a civilian government replace Bashir’s, military figures succeeded at forcing shared power in an interim government, which it eventually overthrew completely in October 2021 at the direction of military chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.AfricaUnrest in Sudan: Timeline of Situation in Khartoum15 April, 13:31 GMTTheir power grab provoked a new wave of massive civilian resistance that finally yielded a new power-sharing agreement last December. It was scheduled to be signed on April 6, but that was postponed amid disagreements between Burhan and Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, the head of the RSF militia, over the timeline for the RSF’s integration into the Sudanese Armed Forces.

The rift between Burhan and Dagalo, who is better known as Hemetti, quickly widened into a gulf, with Hemetti even casting open doubts about the October 2021 power grab, which he called a “mistake.”

On Saturday, Hemetti claimed to have seized multiple Sudanese military and political sites, although that was disputed and by Monday, the Sudanese military had claimed to have seized the RSF headquarters in Omdurman, across the Nile from the capital city of Khartoum. Burhan subsequently issued a decree abolishing the RSF, which served as the government’s primary force for repressing the civilian revolutionary movement. Previously, the forces comprising the RSF were from the Janjaweed militia, which was judged responsible for the genocide in Darfur in 2003 and later served as mercenary units in the employ of the Saudi-led coalition force in Yemen.

Calls for peace have been international, including from the Arab League and United Nations, which opposed the Sudanese military’s political takeover. The US joined them on Monday, noting its cooperation with regional international groups including the Arab League, the African Union, and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

“We call for an immediate ceasefire without conditions between the Sudanese armed forces and the Rapid Support Forces,” White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters.

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