German foreign minister urges 'pressure' on Sudan warring sides
Germany's Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock began Wednesday a visit to east Africa, where she will push for sanctions and accountability to force warring parties in Sudan to negotiate for peace.
Baerbock's multi-day trip will take her to South Sudan, Kenya and Djibouti, where she will also discuss ways to protect shipping in the Red Sea from attacks by Yemen's Houthi rebels.
Since April 2023, the war in Sudan pitting forces loyal to army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his former deputy Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, commonly known as Hemedti, who commands the Rapid Support Forces, has killed more than 13,000 people and displaced 7.5 million.
The images from Darfur brought back grim memories of the genocide 20 years ago, Baerbock said.
"Together with my partners in Djibouti, Kenya and South Sudan, I will explore possibilities to bring generals Burhan and Hemeti finally to the negotiating table, so that they don't drag the people in Sudan deeper into the abyss and destabilise the region any further," she said in a statement Wednesday before her trip.
"For me it is clear that we must raise the pressure on both sides - through sanctions, by holding them accountable for their violations against the civil population and by influencing their supporters abroad."
Previous mediation attempts have yielded only brief truces, and even those were systematically violated.
Beyond political talks, Baerbock will hold meetings with members of Sudan's civil society.
"Sudan will only find longterm peace with a civil democratic government," she said, emphasising that the conflict should not become a "forgotten crisis".
Sudan's army-aligned government this month spurned an invitation to an east African summit organised by the IGAD East African bloc and subsequently suspended its membership in the group for engaging with Daglo, the commander of rival paramilitary forces.
Both sides have been accused of war crimes, including the indiscriminate shelling of residential areas, torture and arbitrary detention of civilians.
Separately, the United Arab Emirates has denied arming the Rapid Support Forces, after a leaked UN document found "credible" evidence that it was sending weapons to the paramilitary group, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday.