How the Sudan crisis threatens the entire Sahel

How the Sudan crisis threatens the entire Sahel

Context- Hopes for a quick resolution to the fighting in Sudan are fading. Despite talks between warring parties, which met in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia over the weekend, air strikes were reported in Khartoum amid ongoing fighting.

Tens of thousands of civilians have fled, and the United Nations has warned of a catastrophic humanitarian crisis, which could spill over into neighboring countries.

(Credits- Encyclopedia Britannicca)

More weapons in circulation

  • “There is currently no regional consensus on how to stop the violence — making matters more difficult,” explained Henrik Maihack of the Friedrich Ebert Institute (FES).
  • “In the Horn of Africa region, there is no functioning collective security system among neighboring countries. Security is often organized against each other,” Maihack told DW
  • UN Special Representative Volker Perthes also recently told DW that the fighting in Sudan attracts “opportunists and mercenaries,” who seek to enrich themselves.
  • Another danger is proliferation of small arms, which cross Sudan’s over porous borders and may even reach as far afield as Mali and Burkina Faso, Maihack fears.
  • Armed groups already operate in those countries, and new weapons would lead to worse security situation in the Sahel, according to Maihack. He warns the Sudan crisis could fuel “two crisis regions:” in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel.

Humanitarian crises worsening across the region

  • Maihack said there were humanitarian emergencies in Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan even before fighting broke out, and that relief efforts were underfunded.
  • Since April 15, Sudanese Armed Forces units loyal to Abdel-Fattah Burhan, have been fighting rival Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo’s Rapid Support Forces (RSF).
  • Their fight for supremacy has put neighboring nations under pressure. Some of these states are under military rule, an unstable security situation and economic trouble — or a combination thereof. Now, thousands of refugees from Sudan are streaming across the border to South Sudan, Chad, or the Central African Republic (CAR). Those that can go further afield.

More support needed for the region’s countries

  • The UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) is bracing itself to support around 800,000 refugees in the region if the fighting does not end soon. But for many countries, there are severe challenges to hosting the incoming refugees. Local governments cannot support them financially,said UNHCR spokesperson Eujin Byun.
  • Ethiopia, South Sudan, Chad and Egypt have already taken in many Sudanese. “More than 70% of the refugees that are crossing the border are women and children,” Byun told DW.
  • Chad has accepted 600,000 refugees — including 400,000 Sudanese from this crisis.

Sudan’s leadership battle concerns neighbors

  • Sudan has seven land borders. The Sudan crisis could spill over into a greater regional conflict.
  • Sudan is also on the crossroads of different regions: North Africa, the Sahel, East Africa, the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Gulf.

Which countries have a stake in Sudan and why?

Neighboring States in Africa

  • Sudan’s geographic location is crucial as it borders seven countries — Egypt, Ethiopia, Libya, Chad, the Central African Republic, Eritrea and South Sudan.
  • Therefore, many analysts fear that the ongoing war between the military and RSF would spill over into neighbouring countries, which are already mired in their own internal conflicts, causing destabilisation of the entire region.
  • The coup-prone Chad is already suffering from a dire refugee crisis and Sunda’s war might further deteriorate the situation — refugees from contested areas in western Sudan have already arrived in Chad, DW reported. Meanwhile, South Sudan, created in 2011 and battered by bloody civil wars, also remains unstable.
  • Egypt, too, is closely observing the latest development. The country shares a strong bond with Sudan’s military, which it sees as an “ally against Ethiopia”.

Conclusion– With so many countries holding stakes in Sudan, any glimpse of quick mediation between the two fighting generals seems more complicated than the war itself. However, countries in the region and beyond should use their influence to prevent further chaos.

Syllabus- GS-2; International Relations

Source- Indian Express