UN envoy calls on Sudanese parties to urgently find political solution

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Volker Perthes, the UN secretary-general's special representative and head of the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan, speaks at a Security Council meeting on Sudan at the UN headquarters in New York, on May 24, 2022. (Eskinder Debebe/UN Photo/Handout via Xinhua)

The top UN envoy for Sudan on Tuesday called on Sudanese parties to urgently find a political solution to the current crisis.

The overall situation in Sudan remains precarious, with much at stake, including Sudan’s political, social and economic stability. Time is short for the Sudanese to reach a political solution to forge a way out of this crisis, said Volker Perthes, the UN secretary-general’s special representative and head of the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan.

The trilateral mechanism of the United Nations, the African Union and the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development to facilitate intra-Sudan talks will only succeed in a conducive environment. It is up to the Sudanese, particularly the authorities, to create this environment, he told the Security Council in a briefing.

Some positive steps have been taken in this regard. Since late March, the Sudanese authorities have released 86 detainees, including high-profile officials affiliated with the work of the so-called Dismantling Committee. And violence by security forces against protesters appears to have decreased overall though regretfully violations still happen, said Perthes.

He commended the recent release of detainees as an important step toward creating conducive conditions and re-building trust. However, he said, around 110 persons reportedly remain in detention.

“Let me use this forum to call on the military leadership and the Sovereignty Council to make an announcement that in order to make this dialogue happen, they will release the remaining detainees, cease arbitrary arrests, and importantly, lift the state of emergency without limitations,” said Perthes.

The political stalemate continues to impact the security situation and exact a heavy socio-economic toll. Humanitarian needs are growing with a significant impact on the most vulnerable. This, coupled with global geopolitical factors, continues to drive up prices for basic goods in Sudan, he said.

In April, staple food prices increased on average 15 percent compared to March and remained 250 percent higher than March 2021. The combined effects of political instability, economic crisis, poor harvests and global supply shocks are having a disastrous impact on inflation and the affordability of food.

The number of Sudanese facing acute hunger is projected to double to about 18 million by September this year, he said.

However, the organization’s humanitarian response plan for Sudan for 2022 has only been funded at an abysmal 13 percent. In the absence of a political agreement to restore constitutional legitimacy, much international development assistance and engagement by international financial institutions have remained paused. Some donors have also placed restrictions on assistance that goes through state systems, he noted.

“While the primary responsibility for changing these dynamics lies with the Sudanese stakeholders themselves, I am concerned about the long-term consequences, as we watch the further erosion of Sudan’s already fragile state capacity and human capital.”

If a solution to the current impasse is not found, the consequences will be felt beyond Sudan’s borders and for a generation. Ultimately, it is up to the Sudanese to agree on a way out of this crisis, he said. “Too much is at stake, too many hopes and aspirations (are) impacted. I urge the Sudanese to seize this opportunity.”

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