May 22, 2023 (KHARTOUM) – In a briefing to the United Nations Security Council on Monday afternoon, Volker Perthes, the head of the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS), placed the blame squarely on the leadership of both warring parties for the escalating conflict in Sudan.
Perthes further urged an immediate end to the fighting, emphasizing that the responsibility for the ongoing violence rests with those who have chosen the battlefield over peaceful negotiations.
Addressing the council, Perthes acknowledged the various opinions regarding the root causes of the conflict. Some criticize the international community for failing to recognize the warning signs, while others point fingers at flaws in the political process or the Framework Agreement itself. However, He stressed that it is the leaders of the opposing sides who bear the responsibility for the daily warfare and its devastating consequences.
“The responsibility for the fighting rests with those who are waging it daily: the leadership of the two sides who share accountability for choosing to settle their unresolved conflict on the battlefield rather than at the negotiating table,” Perthes emphasized. He underscored that the decision to resort to violence has ravaged Sudan and that it is within the power of the warring parties to bring an end to the bloodshed.
The international diplomat told the Council that more than 700 people have been killed, including 190 children, with another 6,000 injured. Many are missing. Over a million have been displaced: more than 840,000 have sought shelter in rural areas and other states while another 250,000 have crossed Sudanese borders. Nearly 8,000 of the displaced population are pregnant women.
Perthes outlined the extensive efforts made by UNITAMS and the international community to prevent the crisis. Since the October 2021 coup, UNITAMS engaged diligently with military leaders to facilitate a transition to civilian rule through a political process. Despite these efforts, tensions escalated, and reports of military build-up raised alarm. Perthes had previously warned the Security Council about the growing tensions in March, urging both sides to de-escalate the situation.
In the two weeks preceding the outbreak of fighting on April 15, UNITAMS, in collaboration with the Trilateral Mechanism and the Quad, intensified their engagement with the military leaders in a bid to defuse the mounting conflict. These efforts were coordinated with Sudanese civilian leaders, who recognized the gravity of the situation and attempted mediation between the generals. Despite some promising progress, the hopes for a peaceful resolution were shattered when the parties opted for war.
Concluding his briefing, Perthes emphasized the critical need for the Sudanese leadership to prioritize peaceful dialogue and return to the negotiating table to find a resolution to the conflict. Perthes assured the international community’s readiness to support these efforts and work towards stability and prosperity in Sudan.