By Olive Mukahirwa 

On Monday, July 10, members of the Eastern Africa Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) held a meeting whose outcome was a decision to deploy peacekeepers to Sudan after months of intensive fighting between Sudanese government forces (SAF) and the separatist paramilitaries known as Rapid Support forces (RSF). Sudanese government officials refused to attend the IGAD meeting, which was presided over by Kenyan President William Ruto. The Sudanese government accuses Ruto of conflict of interest due to business ties in connection to the conflict in Sudan. 

A summit was held on July 13 in Egypt, hosted by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, and attended by the leaders of seven neighboring countries. Egypt is generally considered to be closer to the Sudanese military than to the rival Rapid Support Forces. The Sudanese government opposed IGAD’s proposal, accusing Kenya of providing safe harbor to the RSF. The summit’s proposal focused on declaring a cease-fire, enabling the safe distribution of aid to civilians and creating an inclusive dialogue framework. Ceasefires have been declared many times since the fighting began April 15. None of the ceasefires has worked so far. 

Since fighting began, more than 3,000 people have been killed, 2.9 million people have been displaced internally, and 700,000 refugees have fled to neighboring countries, especially Egypt, South Sudan, Chad, Ethiopia, the Central African Republic, and Libya, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), an agency of the United Nations. Also according to IOM, almost 24.7 million people are in urgent need of protection and humanitarian aid, out of a total population of 45 million people. 

  Sudanese government forces are led by Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan. Gen. Mohamed Hamdan leads the Rapid Support Forces. The two sides are fighting over the leadership of the country. The present conflict has its roots in Darfur in the early 2000s, when the Janjaweed militia killed more than 300,000 people and displaced more than 2.5 million. The RSF and Sudanese military shared power After overthrowing former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir in 2019, the RSF and Sudanese military shared power until April 15, but the alliance then broke down and a fierce struggle is on for leadership of the country. Meanwhile, the United Nations accuses the leaders of crimes against humanity. 

According to the spokesperson for António Guterres, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, “[António Guterras] is deeply concerned about the situation in Darfur. He is appalled by reports of large-scale violence and casualties across the region, in particular in El Geneina, West Darfur, as well as other areas including Nyala in South Darfur and Kutum and El Fasher in North Darfur, resulting from the conflict between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). He is highly worried about the increasing ethnic dimension of the violence, as well as by reports of sexual violence. The Secretary-General reiterates his call for the SAF and RSF to cease fighting and commit to a durable cessation of hostilities. He reminds all parties of their obligation to protect civilians.”