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Brutal 8-month war for control of Sudan has devastated much of the country

ASMA KHALID, HOST:

A brutal eight-month war for control of Sudan has devastated much of the country. More than 6 million people have been displaced and medical services have been wiped out in many areas. Many thousands have died, while the true death toll remains truly unknowable. Several rounds of peace talks have failed to bring the fighting between Sudan's army and the powerful paramilitary group known as the Rapid Support Forces to an end, nor have these talks held either side to account for the scale of abuses the war has unleashed. Throughout the conflict, NPR's Emmanuel Akinwotu has been covering Sudan. And he joins us now from his base in West Africa for an update on the status of the conflict. Good morning, Emmanuel.

EMMANUEL AKINWOTU, BYLINE: Good morning, Asma.

KHALID: It has been, I would say, really, a devastating year for so many people in Sudan. And, you know, our focus here in Washington is really, a lot of times now, on the Middle East conflict. But in Sudan, the war is still raging. Can you update us on what the current status is?

AKINWOTU: Yes, exactly. You know, we're still seeing intense fighting with the RSF appearing to have the upper hand, according to some analysts. And there's still mass waves of displacement, you know, most recently from Gezira state, where many people who'd escaped from the capital had fled to. You know, medical services have been crippled. And still after eight months of this, there's somehow still a scarcity of aid. Throughout the crisis, I've been speaking to William Carter. He's the Sudan director for the Norwegian Refugee Council. And we spoke again a few days ago and he was really damning about the lack of support and urgency Sudan has received from the international community.

WILLIAM CARTER: You know, we are really on the brink of famine. There is quite possibly a genocide happening. There's an impending state collapse of a huge country. There seems to be good strategic reasons for not letting Sudan slip into the abyss or explode in the way that it's about to, and yet we can't even get money for lifesaving assistance. And I really feel that the people of Sudan, you know, the worst has happened to them. And sometimes it feels like there's - they have very few friends. It is heartbreaking.

KHALID: Now, Emmanuel, there have been several rounds of peace talks, as we mentioned, many were facilitated by the United States. But it does not appear that we are any closer to a resolution in Sudan. Why is that?

AKINWOTU: Well, it's because both sides, frankly, don't feel that there's any real diplomatic pressure to end the fighting. They aren't facing any meaningful consequences so far. And, you know, we've only seen countries seem to really wake up to the scale of the abuses in recent weeks and months, and even then, without any real repercussions proposed against those that are responsible for these crimes.

You know, the RSF seems to have the upper hand at the moment, according to some analysis, and have backing from outside actors like the UAE, who have their own agendas. And the army has support to a lesser extent, too. But there's disagreement within the international community on whether the RSF should be seen as a legitimate actor given their history, evolving from various militias, and their actions during this war. And this stalemate is really frustrating the Sudanese people who are trapped in this crisis.

KHALID: Just briefly, Emmanuel, what has struck you the most during your reporting this year?

AKINWOTU: Just how quickly and spectacularly this country has unraveled. You know, it's just tragic, going from the revolution in 2019, which toppled this longtime dictator and led to this, you know, wellspring of hope - and for it to come from that to this is really devastating for millions of people.

KHALID: That's NPR's Emmanuel Akinwotu in Lagos, Nigeria. Thank you, Emmanuel.

AKINWOTU: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF DUSTIN O'HALLORAN'S "AN ENDING, A BEGINNING") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Asma Khalid
Asma Khalid is a White House correspondent for NPR. She also co-hosts The NPR Politics Podcast.
Emmanuel Akinwotu
Emmanuel Akinwotu is an international correspondent for NPR. He joined NPR in 2022 from The Guardian, where he was West Africa correspondent.