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Sudan’s Descent into Violence Must Not Be Ignored

Sudan’s experience over the past year has demonstrated how quickly a country can succumb to violence. Now that the United Nations Security Council has called for an immediate cessation of fighting and urged all parties to ensure the rapid delivery of humanitarian assistance, the international community must turn words into action.

NEW YORK – On March 8, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution calling for an immediate cessation of hostilities in Sudan during the holy month of Ramadan. It also urged all parties to the conflict to ensure the rapid and safe delivery of humanitarian assistance and to uphold their obligations under international humanitarian law, including to protect civilians.

The violent conflict, which erupted last April following a standoff between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a powerful paramilitary group, has since engulfed more than half the country. Nearly a year later, the Security Council’s push for a ceasefire and the free flow of aid is an essential step forward, following increasingly urgentcalls for an immediate halt to the fighting from the African Union and UN Secretary-General António Guterres. Now, policymakers must translate words into action.

The situation in Sudan is catastrophic. Half the population – 25 million people – are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance. According to the UN World Food Programme, nearly 18 million people are facing acute hunger – more than double this time last year – and must make impossible decisions to feed themselves, while nearly five million (equivalent to the population of Ireland) are on the brink of famine. Since the conflict began, more than eight million people have been displaced. In December, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken issued a determination that war crimes, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing were occurring in Sudan, evoking ominous echoes of the Darfur genocide.