Sudanese Army and Rapid Support Forces Blame Each Other for Dam Strike
The Sudanese army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) are pointing fingers at each other for a strike that damaged a bridge over the Jebel Awlia dam, located south of Khartoum. This incident is the latest in a series of attacks on key infrastructure during the ongoing seven-month war in Sudan.
The extent of the damage to the dam is still unclear, but if severe, it could lead to major flooding of the White Nile. In recent weeks, a bridge in the capital city of Khartoum and a crucial oil depot were also damaged in strikes, with both forces blaming each other for the attacks.
Fighting has intensified in the Jebel Awlia area, an impoverished district in southern Khartoum state, resulting in the displacement of thousands of people. The RSF claimed earlier this month that they had seized an army base in the area. Local volunteer group, the “emergency room,” reported that civilians were killed in raids by the RSF and in the crossfire between the army and RSF. However, obtaining exact numbers has been challenging due to damage to telecom networks.
The conflict in Sudan began in April when tensions arose between the army and RSF over integrating their forces during a transition to democracy. Since then, the RSF has gained control over most of Khartoum and has been expanding its influence southward. It has also managed to take control of most of the western Darfur region, indicating its efforts to solidify control over as much of the country as possible. This strengthens its position in ongoing peace talks.
In a letter circulated in the Security Council, Sudan informed the UN chief of its decision to immediately end the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan. The mission aimed to assist Sudan’s transitional government after the December 2018 revolution. However, the Sudanese government deemed the mission disappointing. Despite terminating the mission, Sudan expressed its commitment to continue working constructively with the UN.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appointed Ian Martin to lead a strategic review of the UN Mission in Sudan and appointed Ramtane Lamamra of Algeria as his envoy for Sudan. The mission’s mandate was scheduled to end on December 3. Guterres’ spokesperson, Stephane Dujarric, stated that they would engage closely with all actors, including the Sudanese authorities and members of the Security Council, to determine the next steps.
Martha Ama Akyaa Pobee, the UN assistant secretary-general for Africa, addressed the Security Council and expressed concern about the conflict spreading to other parts of Sudan. She emphasized that Sudan is facing a convergence of a worsening humanitarian calamity and a catastrophic human rights crisis. Currently, nearly 25 million people in Sudan require humanitarian aid, making it the country with the largest number of displaced people in the world.
According to estimates by the NGO Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, the civil war in Sudan has resulted in over 10,000 deaths. However, this figure is widely considered an underestimate.
The ongoing conflict in Sudan continues to take a toll on the country’s infrastructure and its people. As the blame game between the Sudanese army and RSF persists, it is crucial for international organizations and stakeholders to step in and find a peaceful resolution to prevent further devastation and loss of life.