Time to stop war in Sudan

Mr Josep Borrell

What you need to know:

  •  We expect also the two leaders of the belligerent parties, to finally heed the calls to stop this carnage.

The world’s worst, most complex and cruel crisis, is unfolding in Sudan without making it into our prime-time news, according to UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. 

With nearly nine million displaced within the country – half of them children – and almost two million refugees abroad, Sudan is indeed currently the largest displacement crisis in the world. 

And the worst is still to come: combat disrupted planting season in Sudan’s most fertile regions. Nearly 20 million people, almost one of two Sudanese, are facing acute food insecurity in a country that used to be a major food producer. 

On April 15, Sudan’s war enters its second year. On this day, the EU with France and Germany will host a high-level conference in Paris to plead for additional humanitarian aid and call for an end to this conflict. 

We know who is responsible for this disaster. With their joint military coup in October 2021, the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) hijacked the aspirations of the democratic Sudanese revolution. Their coup alliance unravelled and descended into war between them.  

In Darfur, the genocidal atrocities against civilians based on their ethnicity that put Sudan in the headlines in 2003 have resumed. 

Throughout the country, aid is being deliberately withheld and humanitarian workers are being denied access.

External sponsors, bringing in cash and weapons, fuel the fighting. Players like Iran are delivering arms, including drones, to the SAF. 

The United Arab Emirates have also direct leverage on the RSF that they should use to end the war. Russia plays both sides in the hopes to get access to strategic infrastructure and resources, including with mercenary PMCs, which are mainly after gold and minerals. 

The Red Sea is Europe’s most important maritime connection to Asia and the Pacific and Sudan could become a revolving door for human trafficking, radical fighters, weapons and all kinds of illicit trade between the Sahel, North and Sub-Saharan Africa. Europe’s security is at stake. 

Ever since, the EU and its member states have stood firm in their view: the only side we take in this conflict is the side of civilians and the hope they have for their country. 

We will continue to engage with the belligerents from a neutral position that puts peace and respect for civilian’s lives and rights front and centre. April 15 in Paris must become a joint rallying cry for peace. It has to be the on-ramp for more comprehensive, concerted and consequential action of Europe, Africa and the international community on Sudan. 

Chief among the goals of today must of course be to avert the looming famine in Sudan and to support the countries and communities that have taken in people fleeing war. 

The available aid held up by the belligerents on political calculus must reach the people in need, wherever they are. Such war tactics violate international law and may amount to war crimes. We expect also the two leaders of the belligerent parties, to finally heed the calls to stop this carnage and come to the negotiating table. Failure to do so would have consequences. 

Our action on Sudan is not isolated: in Sudan as in Ukraine or elsewhere democratic aspirations should not be fought through the barrel of a gun. The Sudanese people have demanded no less since they took over the streets of Khartoum five years ago. 

This is why we are tirelessly calling for a ceasefire without delay, unfettered access of aid and the return to the path of a democratic transition in Sudan. We always favour African solutions to African problems. 

As Sudan enters the second year of its most fateful war, we look to the region to take responsibility. Alongside our regional and international partners, we stand ready to help Sudan in its darkest hour. 

Josep Borrell Fontelles, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission and Janez Lenarčič, European Commissioner for Crisis Management