Photograph — General Yassir al-Atta, head of Sudan's army. Photo Credit:

Since the 15th of April, Sudan has been embroiled in a state of turmoil. Two groups decided to display their military might, causing immense harm to an already struggling economy, and plunging many citizens into poverty and unprecedented danger. Tensions have shown no signs of abating between the Sudanese army, led by General Yassir al-Atta, and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), under the command of Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (“Hemetti”).

Ever since the ousting of the long-term dictator, President Omar al-Bashir in 2019, Sudan’s political climate has remained rife with uncertainty. The ongoing civil war has wreaked havoc on the economy, stifling economic activities, investments, and international finance. As violence continues to spread across the country, there have been numerous calls for a ceasefire from the United Nations and African leaders.

In a recent development reported by Reuters, General Yassir al-Atta declined a Kenyan-led proposal for East African peacekeepers to intervene and help bring an end to the conflict. The Sudanese general has classified any foreign peacekeeper as enemy forces. “Leave the East African forces where they are. Bring the Kenyan army … I swear to god, not one of them would make it back,” vowed General Yassir al-Atta. 

The General’s stance on ending the war bodes ill for Sudan and its people. The country is already grappling with a severe refugee crisis, as revealed by a report from the International Organization of Migration (IOM), which states that the conflict in Sudan has internally displaced nearly 3 million people and forced almost 700,000 to seek refuge in neighbouring countries since April.

Efforts by the international community and regional bloc to mitigate the crisis have proven futile. In this article, we will shed light on the extensive repercussions of Sudan’s refusal to accept East African peacekeepers amid the ongoing civil war in Sudan.

Escalated violence and humanitarian crisis 

General Yassir’s refusal to accept peacekeepers means the fight may not end soon. This sets an intense tone of violence between the warring factions as either intensifies efforts to win the war. Without peacekeepers to monitor and enforce a ceasefire, the conflict may continue to escalate, leading to more human and economic losses. The absence of an external peacekeeping force can make it challenging to contain hostilities and prevent further aggression. The humanitarian crisis is most likely to surge. Sudan is bound to record a higher number of civilian displacement, and food and healthcare insecurity as the conflict continues unchecked.

Economic hardship and international isolation

Prolonged crises will do no good for Sudan’s already ailing economy. The economy had been stagnated since 2019. The ongoing conflict would further destroy infrastructure, disrupt trade and scar foreign investors. With the presence of peacekeepers, acting as neutral third-party mediators and creating an environment conducive for peace talks, the conflicting parties have a chance of initiating and sustaining negotiations. 

The presence of peacekeepers can make it easier to find a peaceful resolution and create ways ahead for the nation to enjoy the benefits of being connected to the international community. But refusing to accept peacekeepers may lead to the country’s increased international isolation and diplomatic boycotts. The international community may view the rejection as a deliberate attempt to avoid a peaceful conflict resolution.

Regional disunity and war spillover

The tone of General Yassir’s warning to Kenya and the regional bloc evokes questions about the influence of the bloc over its region, creating room for more countries within the region to disrespect the bloc. Sadly, the bloc’s inability to send peacekeepers despite offers may affect regional alliances. This may also jeopardise relations between Sudan and other neighbouring countries.

Most importantly, if the Sudanese civil war is not tamed, it could spill over to neighbouring countries, potentially causing regional instability. Refugee flows, cross-border violence, and the smuggling of arms and resources could impact the stability of other neighbouring states. 

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