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LONDON: Urgent international efforts are needed to address the worsening situation for the Sudanese people as famine looms, the US special envoy to the country said on Thursday.

Addressing journalists at an event attended by Arab News, Tom Perriello said signs of famine are apparent across large swathes of the country.

“Neither global nor media attention is properly attuned to the scale of the crisis in Sudan, but this is an urgent situation,” he added.

“Alongside the signs of famine, there are issues of forced recruitment, slavery, and horrific crimes being carried out on all sides, particularly against women and children. As Sudan heads into the rainy season, this could all get much, much worse.”

Despite the deteriorating conditions, Perriello stressed that the Sudanese people could not be more unified or clear in their desire to “take their future back.”

Those conditions have been engendered by the ongoing conflict between the Sudanese Armed Forces and its breakaway paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, which erupted last April between the former allies who had jointly seized power in a 2021 coup.

“For the wishes of the Sudanese to be met, what’s needed is for these generals to meet and for the international and regional community to act as partners in peace,” Perriello said.

“We (the US) see it as important to engage with the forces involved, and we see partners ready to participate in the peace process.

“This is an important thing. We’ll sit down with them to try and make this reality one where civilians determine their own future.”

Reports have been circulating of an increasing number of external actors that Perriello described as “meddling.”

He said reports of involvement in the conflict by “hard-line” Islamist groups and Iran are “of great concern to us and our partners, and it’s certainly something we’re monitoring.

“It’s just one example of something that could take an already disastrous situation and be fuel on the fire that helps to turn it into even a regional war.”

Perriello added: “Sudanese people have been clear on this — they don’t want any external engagement adding to the problems.”

From the US perspective, he said the focus is on engaging with those who are “serious” about peace, noting efforts made by Sudan’s neighbors and Saudi Arabia in this regard.

Asked what is needed now, Perriello urged the world to participate in “an accountability process,” as he called for an immediate “end to the violence, ensure humanitarian access, and return Sudan to civilian transition.”

Source: Arab News

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