By Georges Budagu Makoko
The armed conflict between rival factions of the military government of Sudan that began on April 15 has caused great concern throughout the African Diaspora. This new conflict is already putting additional weight on the support system for refugees and asylum seekers worldwide, and needs the immediate attention of regional governments, international organizations, and individuals to bring it to a rapid close. People here in the U.S. and around the world must commit to a de-escalation of the conflict in order to achieve a peaceful resolution.
The root of the current war in Sudan is the civil unrest that has simmered in the country since 2019, when the long-term dictatorship of President Omar al-Bashir collapsed and transitional military forces started competing for power and negotiating with civilian leaders for a more democratic and civilian-led regime.
According to Mutasim Eltahir, the president of the Sudanese Community of Maine, in only one month the conflict has killed hundreds of people, greatly damaged the main infrastructure of the capital city Khartoum and surrounding cities, and displaced hundreds of thousands internally and externally. People have fled to neighboring countries including Chad, Cameroon, Egypt, Ethiopia, and South Sudan. Eltahir stated that the fight involves two groups, the current Sudanese Army led by general Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and the paramilitary group led by Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagolo, known as Hamedti. Eltahir is not optimistic that peace will come anytime soon, since the international community does not show signs of investing seriously in stopping the war.
On May 11, I talked with Jadawon Natambi Jaru, who just arrived from Sudan on a special visa after working for the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum for 23 years. Jaru expressed his deepest concerns about the current situation in Sudan. He explained that he was very lucky to have left Khartoum for Egypt on April 14, the day before war erupted. His main fear is for the many people who are in harm’s way, just trying to survive in desperate conditions. He said they need food, healthcare, medicine, and a safe place to stay. He is in constant communication with his relatives and other community members in Sudan, and worries that things are getting worse every day. According to his contacts on the ground, the main destruction results from the use of aircrafts bombing bases of the paramilitary group’s strongholds within Khartoum and surrounding cities, and the resultant killing of civilians in the process.
Echoing Jaru’s concerns, Aymen Korika, the spokesperson of the Sudanese Community in Maine, warned that given the current housing crisis in Maine and around the country, we cannot afford to see another conflict that is going to cause yet another humanitarian crisis of asylum seekers looking for safety. There are more than 2,500 Sudanese people living in Maine, and they are greatly worried about the safety of their relatives back home, Korika said. He called on the U.S government to make use of its resources and power to stop the conflict in Sudan and establish peace. Saudi Arabia, Korika explained, is hosting peace talks between the two groups involved in the conflict, and in his opinion the whole international community should join hands and insist on peace in Sudan before it is too late.
With over 107 million internally and externally displaced people around the world, and the current global crises that are already bringing thousands of asylum seekers to the U.S. every day, the time to stop this tragic conflict is now. Collective effort can and must change the situation. Please urge your representatives in Washington to press for action.