On April 15, 2023, an internal conflict broke out in Sudan between the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF). The conflict has worsened the already existing issues of poverty and public health in Sudan. For example, the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported 46 attacks on health care workers and facilities since the conflict started with 67% of hospitals reportedly shut down, affecting 11 million Sudanese citizens. Furthermore, according to the World Food Programme (WFP), 15 million Sudanese citizens are struggling with acute food insecurity, and that number could rise to 18 million if food aid organizations do not receive adequate financial support. In response, major international powers have launched diplomatic interventions to stop the conflict in Sudan.
The U.S.–Saudi Arabia Efforts to Stop the Conflict in Sudan began with the Jeddah Declaration, signed by the RSF and the SAF in the city of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia on May 11, 2023. The Jeddah Declaration prioritized “the interests and well-being of the Sudanese people” and affirmed its obligation to “International Humanitarian Law and international human rights law.” This includes ensuring the protection of hospitals and water installations as well as allowing humanitarian organizations to help those in need of medical help. This major diplomatic intervention has been partially successful so far in mitigating the conflict.
Effectiveness of the Declaration
The Jeddah Declaration has managed to reduce some of the tension between the warring parties. On June 17, 2023, the U.S.–Saudi Arabia efforts to stop the conflict in Sudan resulted in a 72-hour ceasefire. The ceasefire agreement includes a prohibition on the “use of military aircraft or drones, artillery strikes” and “from seeking military advantage during the ceasefire.” Consequently, the following day witnessed an absence of fighting in Sudan, and reports from people on the ground indicated a calm situation. This demonstrates the effectiveness of strong diplomatic leadership in halting violence and enabling the provision of humanitarian aid to alleviate poverty and offer essential medical support.
Remaining Hostilities Between Warring Parties
Despite the U.S.–Saudi Arabia efforts to stop the conflict in Sudan, the RSF and SAF are still hostile toward each other, thereby prolonging the humanitarian crisis in Sudan. During the Eid al-Adha on June 28, 2023, Sudanese citizens claimed that they heard gunfire and airstrikes despite a ceasefire announcement by both the RSF and the SAF. As a result, many Sudanese people had to pray the Eid prayer at home instead of in the mosque as per Islamic tradition. Furthermore, people in Sudan are struggling to obtain food because they do not have enough money and the stores are reportedly being looted.
Further Global Initiatives To Help Sudan
Not only the U.S.-Saudi Arabia efforts but also other initiatives are taking place to aid the Sudanese people. On June 20, 2023, an international conference focusing on Sudan’s aid took place in Geneva, Switzerland, with Germany, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt, and the U.N. playing host. During the conference, donors from around the world pledged $1.5 billion in aid to Sudan. This significant commitment emphasizes the international community’s determination to bring an end to the conflict, which has caused 2.2 million people to flee their homes and endure health and poverty challenges.
– Abdullah Dowaihy