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Sudan Conflict: Army Chief Calls for Civilians to Enlist

Sudan’s army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan said on Monday the army is ready to “receive and equip” voluntary fighters.

In a Facebook post, the army directed civilian fighters to go to their nearest command or military unit. 

The possible recruitment of civilians, which could worsen already deadly violence, has been the subject of debate for weeks. 

In a speech on June 27, Al-Burhan said that “all young and capable men should enlist”. It remains unclear whether his latest call to arms was a forced conscription.

Ethnic violence

Monday’s announcement comes amid renewed artillery fire in Khartoum over the weekend, as the conflict between the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, led by Mohamed Hamdane Dagalo (or Hemedti), reaches its twelfth week.

Since it began on April 15 , the war has resulted in nearly 3000 deaths and 2.8 million refugees and displaced people. 

In Darfur, in Sudan’s west, the violence has taken on “ethnic dimensions” according to the United Nations. 

Armed civilians have already participated in the fighting in Darfur, with the region’s governor, Minni Minnawi, an ex-rebel leader now close to the army, calling on civilians to take up arms in May. 

Civilian suffering

The United Nations believes that the acts of violence in Darfur, mainly committed by the RSF and Arab militia allied against non-Arab civilians, could constitute “crimes against humanity”.

The RSF, whose troops largely come from western Sudan, have been accused of the majority of sexual assault cases and of “stealing” houses, leaving their inhabitants to swell the ranks of the displaced. 

On Sunday, amidst a surge of videos on social media showing paramilitary soldiers forcing civilians from their vehicles, the RSF announced they would punish “looting, vandalism and above all the theft of civilians’ cars”. 

Humanitarian organisations are particularly concerned about the plight of children, over 13.6 million of whom are, according to Unicef, in need of humanitarian aid, and 300,000 at risk of starvation.

Source : africanews