• English
  • 日本語
  • France
  • Deutschland
  • Italy
  • España
  • Slovenia

The situation in Ukraine and Gaza is devastating — but we ignore wars in Africa at our peril

Guest content
05 March 2024

It is imperative that we raise awareness and hold the UK and other parties accountable for their failures in the Sudanese conflict. Inaction will trigger a wider crisis of migration that we can no longer ignore, writes Nimco Ali. 

The conflicts in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo are taking a back seat amid the current focus on the wars in Ukraine and Gaza. It’s truly disheartening because countries like the UK have the potential to play a vital role in brokering peace in these regions.

While the situations in Gaza and Ukraine are undeniably devastating, it’s concerning that we seem to be neglecting our responsibilities as influential members of the G7 and the UN Security Council. These are nations where millions face violence and displacement.

In just five years, Sudan — a country blessed with diverse landscapes of astounding beauty — has undergone a turbulent transformation from a dictatorship to a society wrecked by civil war, via revolution and a coup. It was in April last year that this devastating war broke out — how many people were aware of it before reading that sentence?

There exists a deep bond between the Somalis and Sudanese (peoples who are often mistaken for one another) — as if we see reflections of ourselves in each other. I have always said I can look at a Sudanese granny and see my own. It is a country I got to know more in 2020 when, with the help of the then US secretary of state Mike Pompeo, The Five Foundation helped to pass anti-FGM legislation which was meant to be the start of a new era for many women and girls.

So. maybe because of the kinship, common features and a shared belief in making a better world for our women and girls, when I see the plight of those suffering in Sudan it evokes memories of the struggles my family and I endured in Somaliland three decades ago. Maybe that’s why the world’s silence on their suffering hits especially close to home. And maybe that’s why I am tearing up as I write this.

After nearly 10 months of conflict between the two egotistical generals who lead the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and Rapid Support Forces (RSF), there are now eight million people displaced and in dire need of help. It is imperative that we raise awareness and hold the UK and other parties accountable for their failures in allowing the continuation of this conflict — as well as exacerbating the situation in the DRC, where nearly seven million have been displaced by the threat of violence (among other things).

I say this because achieving peace in Sudan is indeed feasible with the support of the international community, particularly the UK. We not only hold historical ties and a duty of care to Sudan but also possesses the convening power as a permanent member of the Security Council to bring the conflicting parties to the negotiation table.

Peace in Sudan is not only crucial for those millions suffering from displacement and hunger, but is also vital for global stability. Sudan is one of the largest and youngest countries globally, with an average population age of 14. It currently has the largest population of displaced children worldwide.

Strategically speaking, allowing millions of children to remain displaced will lead not only to prolonged suffering and violence but will also trigger a ripple effect across continents, creating a crisis that the UK and others will not be able simply to ignore.

It hurts me to say this but if global north countries do not care about Sudan and the DRC on the basis of humanity, maybe they will care that if they do not act soon, those displaced peoples will soon be on the doorstep. And you think the current conversation about immigration is bad?

If we don’t secure peace in Sudan, millions will soon be making their way to seek safety in the West, meaning those migrant numbers the UK and others say they want to cut will be going up by millions. I know how crass that sounds. But the UK and others must start to care — and reminding everyone that their inaction will lead to massive immigration might just do it.

And when it comes to the DRC, it is ironic that Rwanda — the country the UK seems to want to outsource its immigration issues to — is the one that is actually at the heart of the crisis. It could help de-escalate the violence which is causing displacement of peoples. Think of the number of trips UK ministers have recently taken to Rwanda and the very close relationship our current Africa minister has with its leadership. I know they can pick up the phone and help bring an end to the misery so many are facing.

I don’t say this flippantly. I know the UK, if it wanted to, could bring peace to millions and I hope it does so soon, because millions of us in this country and around the world are watching and waiting. We know war is cruel — but what is even worse is the indifference and silence of those who can help.

Nimco Ali is an activist and Evening Standard columnist. 

Original source: Evening Standard 

Image credit: Some rights reserved by United Nations Photo