Islamic oppression Sudan | 13 June 2023

Sudan: The conflict exposes ethnic, tribal and religious vulnerabilities

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In April 2023, armed conflict broke out between the Sudan Army and the country’s main paramilitary force, the Rapid Support Force (RSF), caused by a power struggle between the two main factions of the ruling military regime (The Guardian, 27 April 2023). According to UNHCR (Operational Data Portal, Sudan situation, accessed 7 June 2023), since 15 April 2023, “nearly 400,000 people, including Sudanese refugees and refugees of other nationalities hosted by Sudan have fled Sudan to neighboring countries or returned home in adverse circumstances – notably to Chad, South Sudan, the Central African Republic, Egypt and Ethiopia.” The reason for this has been the indiscriminate targeting of civilians, including attacks on universities, hospitals and civilian settlements (BBC News, 6 June 2023). The RSF, for example, stormed a village near Nyala in South Darfur, Abu Adam, and burned it to the ground (BBC News, 29 May 2023).

World Watch Research analyst Yonas Dembele comments: “The violence has exposed the country’s ethnic, tribal and religious vulnerabilities especially with regard to Christian religious freedoms. Reuters reported on 9 May 2023 about an attack in Khartoum, in which ‘masked gunmen affiliated to one of Sudan's warring factions raided one of Khartoum's oldest churches, opening fire at church officials as they searched for cash, gold and women’. RSF troops also forcibly evacuated priests from Mary’s Coptic Orthodox Church (including Bishop Elia, the Bishop of Khartoum and South Sudan) in an effort to convert the building into a military base (Premier Christian News, 17 May 2023). This is not the situation that Christians in Sudan ever hoped to find themselves in. The leadership of both conflict partners have shown their hostility towards Christians in the past, and the ongoing conflict has further exposed the negative sentiment towards Christianity in the country and is giving anti-Christian forces the opportunity to promote their negative views and further harm the Christian community. The unrest may even pave the way for Somalia’s al-Shabaab to seek refuge in Sudan and spread their Islamist influence in safety from the Somali government’s fierce military offensive against them.”


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