Working for an End to the Violence in the Sudan

Annalena Baerbock travels to East Africa

February 01st, 2024
Editorial, News from Berlin
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“The forgotten war” is how many newspapers describe the brutal power struggle between two generals in the Sudan. On 25 and 26 January, Foreign Minister Baerbock is in Kenya and South Sudan for talks aimed at bolstering efforts to promote dialogue, stability and peace.

It was the women who sparked hope in the Sudan five years ago. They inspired large sections of the population to go out onto the streets in demonstrations calling for democracy and equality. The picture of the 22-year-old student Alaa Salah was shared around the world: standing on a car roof, pointing an accusing finger into the air, she recited a poem to the crowds and thus became a flesh-and-blood statue of liberty – the peaceful symbol of the Sudanese resistance to the dictatorship. “Break down the resistance of the girls, and then you will also break down the resistance of the men,” one of the Sudanese generals is said to have told the military at that time. They did not succeed. The mass protests led to the overthrow of the Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir. Civilian politicians and the military agreed to form a joint transitional government until such times as they could finally transfer power to civilian hands. But the military did not keep their word.
For eight months now, the Sudanese army commanded by General Burhan and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) led by General Hemedti have been engaged in fighting. More than 12,000 deaths, 7 million displaced persons, the collapse of the healthcare system, a country partially reduced to rubble – that is the bitter result. Both sides are accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity and the use of systematic rape as a weapon of war. Foreign Minister Baerbock is now to visit the countries and stakeholders in the region playing a central role in efforts to mediate and promote peace in the Sudan: Djibouti, Kenya, South Sudan and the regional organisation IGAD.

Foreign Minister Baerbock:
With my dialogue partners in Djibouti, Kenya and South Sudan, I want to explore ways to finally bring the generals Burhan and Hemedti to the negotiating table so that they do not continue to drag the people of the Sudan into the abyss and destabilise the region.

Working for stability in the region

As permission to fly over had not yet been granted shortly before the Foreign Minister’s plane was due to enter Eritrean airspace, the planned leg of the visit in Djibouti could ultimately not take place. The Minister spoke to her counterpart over the phone. In Djibouti, Foreign Minister Baerbock was intending to hold political talks and meet representatives of IGAD, the association of countries in the Horn of Africa.
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In Kenya the main focus will be on efforts to bring about peace in the Sudan. Here, Foreign Minister Baerbock will meet representatives of Sudanese civil society living in exile as well as dialogue partners from the political sphere.
Germany and Kenya are linked by diverse relations which thrive on our ability to keep learning from one another. While Kenya is a pioneer in the development of renewable energies and already generates around 90% of its energy from geothermal power, hydroelectric power and wind power, the country is tackling youth unemployment with a tried and tested German export: the dual training system.
On the last stage of her trip, Foreign Minister Baerbock will hold political talks in South Sudan’s capital, Juba, speak to German members of the UN mission UNMISS and visit a UNHCR refugee settlement. South Sudan has provided refuge to hundreds of thousands of displaced persons from the Sudan and, in view of its status as a close neighbour and its history with the country, has offered to mediate in the conflict. As the second-largest donor, Germany is helping to provide the refugees in the Sudan’s neighbouring countries with what they need to survive. Yet international pressure to put an end to the fighting is needed if the suffering is finally to cease.


News from Berlin