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Feb 26, 2024, 12:41pm EST
securityAfrica
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Semafor Signals

Sudan’s forgotten war is expanding

Insights from Foreign Policy, ReliefWeb, and the U.N. World Food Programme

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Sudan refugees
REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra
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The News

Sudan’s civil war is spiraling out of control as global superpowers remain more concerned with the wars in Gaza and Ukraine.

A new U.N. report detailed how the conflict has left thousands of civilians dead and millions displaced as fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) expands to more areas of the country.

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SIGNALS

Semafor Signals: Global insights on today's biggest stories.

Sudan’s war pushed into the background by other conflicts

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Sources:  
Stimson Center, Worldcrunch, Foreign Policy

Since fighting broke out in Suday, Washington’s response to the crisis has been “at best timid, consisting mostly of formal statements and press releases,” political scientist Michael Curtin wrote for the Stimson Center, a global conflict think tank. The lack of attention to the crisis is in part due to a communications vacuum in Sudan: In addition to internet outages, journalists also face significant dangers while reporting there, so “gaining a solid understanding of the events on the ground is near impossible,” according to Worldcrunch. But the fighting in Ukraine and Gaza — regions more geopolitically aligned to U.S. foreign policy interests — means that Sudan is not getting as substantial coverage despite the humanitarian crisis being equally — and if not more — catastrophic than Ukraine or Gaza. The West believes it has abandoned its “​​racist habit of ascribing different value to human life in different places,” but there is evidently “double standards” in Washington’s response, Mark Malloch Brown, a former deputy secretary-general of the U.N., wrote for Foreign Policy.

Rivals turn Sudan into epicenter of proxy wars

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Sources:  
The New Arab, The Guardian, ReliefWeb

Countries with closer economic ties to Sudan and Africa have chosen to support warring factions and are accelerating the country’s humanitarian fallout. The in-fighting between Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates has been most notable: Both nations have substantial economic ties with Sudan, particularly in mining for rare minerals — with Saudi Arabia backing the SAF and the UAE supporting the RSF. Meanwhile, Ukraine is reportedly sending over special forces to help Sudan’s armed forces combat Russia’s Wagner mercenary group, which is supporting the RSF. All parties should “refrain from engaging in proxy wars” to achieve regional dominance and instead focus diplomatic efforts on alleviating political tensions, the humanitarian portal ReliefWeb wrote.

Crisis is spilling into neighboring countries

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Sources:  
U.N. World Food Programme, U.N. Financial Tracking Service, NPR

The nearly 7 million Sudanese refugees fleeing into politically and economically fragile neighboring countries like Chad and the Central African Republic are accelerating larger humanitarian crises, due to a lack of funding to support needs like food and shelter, according to the U.N.’s World Food Programme. A U.N.-backed appeal for $2.7 billion in humanitarian aid for the Sudan crisis has only yielded $97 million — less than 4% of the needed funds — according to the organization’s Financial Tracking Service. The West now has a choice between either creating “a demographic dividend or a demographic disaster,” a UNICEF spokesperson told NPR, forging stable conditions for displaced people to help the region grow, or turning a blind eye and allowing instability to flourish, in turn leading to political vacuums for extremists to fill.

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