Date: Situation as of 12/09/2023
Location: Khartoum, Sudan
Who's involved: Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), Rapid Support Forces (RSF).
Security situation developments:
Throughout August, the conflict spread around the country, with the RSF and SAF controlling various regions. In South Kordofan, clashes between the SAF and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), a militant organization active in South Kordofan and Blue Nile siding with the RSF, caused the displacement of over 50,000 people. On 04/08/2023, the RSF claimed it obtained control of Central Darfur. Thousands of people were displaced between 11/08/2023 and 17/08/2023 due to renewed clashes between SAF and RSF in South Darfur capital Nyala Town. Meanwhile, the Governor of Darfur announced the deployment of the Joint Forces of the Armed Struggle Movement (ASM) to protect civilians in the area. In Geneina, West Darfur, the governor confirmed a ceasefire between the warring parties. Despite this, Khartoum remains the epicenter of violence. During the first week of September, several clashes between SAF and RSF and airstrikes have been reported.
Also on 04/08/2023, the UN denounced that the ongoing violence in Darfur, perpetrated by the RSF, is increasingly based on ethnicity and sexual/gender-based violence and is drastically increasing as the conflict continues.
On 29/08/2023, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, leader of the SAF, flew to Egypt to attend talks with Egypt President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to discuss efforts to end the conflict in Sudan.
On 29/08/2023, the Ministry of Interior announced the resumption of passport issuance in the country, apart from North Darfur and North Kordofan. Citizens seem dissatisfied with the high cost of passports, it restricts people’s right to free movement.
On 30/08/2023, the governor of the Blue Nile province proclaimed the state of emergency in place would be extended for another month.
On 04/09/2023, the UNHCR, supported by 64 humanitarian and national civil society organizations, announced they need $1 billion to provide essential aid and protection to more than 1.8 million people fleeing the ongoing conflict in Sudan.
Sudan’s airspace has been partially reopened. The first commercial flight between Cairo and Port Sudan took place on 05/09/2023. There are unconfirmed reports on Chad partially reopening the border with Sudan.
The situation in Sudan is still volatile. Fighting between the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) is spreading around the country. The conflict heavily affects the population. Several humanitarian organizations have expressed their concern for the civilians. If the crisis and the displacement continue it is very likely to expect a high level of food and water insecurity. Humanitarian and medical assistance is limited due to frequent attacks against medical personnel.
According to the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH), the conflict significantly facilitates the outbreak of diseases. The few hospitals still open in Khartoum are in danger of being closed after some Doctors Without Borders (DWB) employees were beaten and whipped by armed forces.
Both SAF and RSF are gaining local support. Tensions are arising between groups in Darfur, with Arab militias supporting the RSF and allegedly targeting non-Arab groups and African tribes. There will likely be a rise in interethnic violence in Darfur.
To date, over 3 million individuals have been internally displaced (mostly from 8 states).
On the regional level, there is widespread concern about the continuation of the conflict in Sudan. The conflict is exacerbating regional insecurity and humanitarian crises. Specifically, the displacement crisis is concerning for neighboring countries, like Egypt, Chad, the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Libya.
The United States and Saudi Arabia sponsored negotiations in May 2023 but they collapsed quickly due to violations of the ceasefire and the SAF leaving negotiations in June 2023. The United States remains Sudan’s leading aid supplier, while implementing sanctions and visa restrictions on SAF and RSF members.
The African Union is seeking to facilitate mediation between the parties and restart the democratization process in Sudan. However, the AU's willingness to interact with both sides is causing discontent on the part of the Sudanese authorities.
Egypt is siding with SAF. Besides geopolitical and stability interests, Egypt is directly affected by the neighboring state's conflict because of the massive flow of refugees pouring into the country.
Strong evidence suggests that Russia’s Wagner mercenary group has armed and financed the RSF and is likely to benefit from its mining profits.
The conflict between the SAF and RSF will continue in the near future. The involvement of various regional and international actors and their multiple interests make a short-term solution to the conflict unlikely. The protracted conflict will exacerbate the ongoing humanitarian crisis. It is likely to lead to an escalation of the flow of displaced persons to neighboring countries and a consequent increase in migration flows to Europe. The conflict is also likely to result in a deepening of divisions between the different groups, characterized by ethnic cleansing practices and increased violence against civilians.