Sudanese Army General Accuses UAE of Supporting Rapid Support Forces' Militia

A convoy of WFP trucks in North Darfur (file photo).
30 November 2023

Harare — A senior Sudanese general for the first time, openly accused the United Arab Emirates (UAE) of supplying weapons to its paramilitary opponent, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF, Reuters reports.

Before now, army authorities only made passing references to possible meddling in the seven-month-old conflict, which resulted in the displacement of over six million people and waves of ethnically motivated massacres in Darfur, by unnamed neighbouring nations.

Responding to the accusation, a UAE official said that from the outset of the war, the UAE had "consistently called for de-escalation, a ceasefire, and the initiation of diplomatic dialogue" in Sudan. The UAE reportedly gave humanitarian assistance to lessen the humanitarian crisis in Sudan and neighbouring countries, notably by setting up a field hospital in the Chadian city of Amdjarass in July.

The UAEs unidentified materials allegedly passed through the Central African Republic (CAR), Chad and Uganda, to reach the RSF, Yasser Al-Atta, a member of the Sudanese Sovereign Council and assistant commander-in-chief of the Sudanese Army said. Atta also reportedly said that assistance had earlier arrived through Amdjarass and arrived this week through the airport in Ndjamena, the capital of Chad.

He commended Russia for taking down the Wagner Group, a paramilitary organization that he claimed made it easier to get supplies into the CAR. However, the RSF denied any affiliation with the organization. The remarks follow the RSF's recent victories in the conflict, which saw it drive the army out of four states in the Darfur area. This according to eyewitnesses, is because the RSF employed more sophisticated weaponry and drones than it did at the beginning of the war.

General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the head of the Sudanese army, appointed Atta as his deputy. Burhan recently revealed that he will be visiting the UAE for the first time since the conflict began, precisely one week before the COP28 climate meeting.

Although the UAE supported Sudan's failed attempt at a democratic transition following Omar al-Bashir's removal in 2019, it has kept a low profile throughout the conflict. In addition to making investments in agriculture and other sectors, the UAE, a major market for Sudanese gold, struck a deal to construct a port on Sudan's Red Sea coast in 2022.

In the seventh month of brutal conflict between rival militaries, Sudan's civilians are caught in the crossfire: more than 10,000 are dead, nearly six million are displaced and 25 million people are in desperate need of food, water and medical care. The WFP announced in a statement on November 21 that it would stop providing relief to internally displaced persons and refugees from Nigeria, the Central African Republic, and Cameroon as of December 2023 due to financial difficulties and an increase in humanitarian needs. From January 2024, the suspension will be extended to 1.4 million people across Chad - including new arrivals from Sudan who will not receive food as they flee across the border, the report says.

Since fighting broke out between the Sudanese army and the paramilitary RSF seven months ago, over 540,000 refugees fled from Sudan into Chad, according to the International Organization for Migration. Many have left West Darfur, where mass massacres and racially motivated violence flared up again in October 2023 in the state capital, el-Geneina, forcing hundreds more people to flee.

"In just the last six months of conflict in Sudan, as many refugees have fled into Chad, bringing the total number of refugees in Chad to over a million. The country is now host to one of the largest and fastest-growing refugee populations in the whole African continent, WFP said.

WFP urgently needs U.S.$185 million to guarantee that the crisis-affected communities of Chad get help for the next six months.

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