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UN warns Sudan risks sliding into economic, security collapse

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Volker Perthes, the UN secretary-general's special representative and head of the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS), briefs the Security Council on the situation in Sudan, at the UN headquarters in New York, on March 28, 2022.

The top UN envoy for Sudan warned that the east African country is heading toward “an economic and security collapse” unless it addresses the political paralysis following October’s military coup.

Volker Perthes told the UN Security Council during a briefing on Monday that the absence of a political agreement on returning to a transitional path had already led to a deteriorating economic, humanitarian, and security situation in the country.

The envoy said that the military’s “violent repression” of protests against the coup was continuing in the capital, Khartoum, and other major cities. He further pointed out that female protesters had been subjected to violence and intimidation by members of the security forces and at least 16 women had reportedly been raped during protests in Khartoum as of March 22.

There have been disturbing reports of increased tensions among Sudan's different security forces, Perthes added. This has sparked concerns in some quarters “that if a political solution is not found, Sudan could descend into conflict and divisions as seen in Libya, Yemen or elsewhere, in a region already beset by instability,” he said.

In the absence of a political solution, he said, crime and lawlessness are rising and intercommunal conflicts in the vast western Darfur region have intensified, with farmers forced off their land by violent attacks, villages burned, and homes looted.

“Unless the current trajectory is corrected, the country will head towards an economic and security collapse, and significant humanitarian suffering.”

Sudan has been in turmoil since October 25, 2021, when the military dismissed Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok’s transitional government and declared a state of emergency. The coup, led by army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, sparked almost daily street protests across the country. The rallies have been met with violence by security forces.

Perthes said, “We expect to start an intensive phase of talks in the next couple of weeks, fully recognizing that this will be during the (Muslim) holy month of Ramadan,” adding, “We anticipate that the stakeholders will participate in the month’s spirit of peace and forgiveness.”


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