Pope appeals to warring parties in Sudan to lay down arms and resume dialogue

Pope Francis expresses his concern for the eruption of violence in Sudan, where scores of people have been killed and wounded as the Sudanese military and a paramilitary group battle for control of the nation.

By Linda Bordoni and Nathan Morley

Pope Francis appealed for dialogue in Sudan as the country’s military battled a paramilitary group for control of the chaos-stricken nation for a second day on Sunday.

Speaking during the Regina Coeli in St Peter’s Square, the Pope said he is following events taking place in Khartoum and elsewhere in the Horn of Africa nation “with concern”.

“I am close to the Sudanese people, who have already been through so much,” he said, and he called for prayers that “arms may be laid down and that dialogue may prevail, so that together, they are able to return to the path of peace and concord.”

A country in chaos

The Pope‘s appeal rings out as fighting reportedly continues in the Sudanese capital and in other areas amid reports that at least dozens of civilians have been killed in the clashes, many more injured and following statements by the clashing parties that they are unwilling to end hostilities despite mounting diplomatic pressure to cease fire.

Pictures from Sudan show a country in chaos.

A committee of doctors said at least 56 civilians have been killed in cities and regions across the country.

It is also reported that dozens of military personnel had been killed, as well as three employees of the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP).

In Khartoum – where black smoke blanketed much of the city - rival forces battled over the presidential palace, national television studios, and army headquarters.

Some residents have reported heavy air strikes on paramilitary positions in and around the capital.

It is also reported that the telecommunications company has blocked internet services.

International calls for a ceasefire

On Sunday, the United Kingdom, the United States and China have all called for an urgent end to the violence.

The dispute concerns a proposed transition to civilian rule. Military leaders have been administering the country, through a so-called Sovereign Council since a coup in 2021.

A projected move to a civilian-led government has foundered on the timetable to incorporate the RSF into the national army. The RSF wanted to delay it for another decade, but the army insists it should happen within the next 24 months.

The coup terminated a period of more than two years when military and civilian leaders were sharing power. That deal came after Sudan's long-term President Omar al-Bashir was ousted.

Humanitarian emergency

Fighting was also reported in the western Darfur region where tens of thousands of people live in camps for displaced people after years of genocidal civil war.

Meanwhile, The Sudan Doctors' Syndicate appealed to international humanitarian and medical organizations to support medical facilities in the country. The group also called on the international community to press both sides to ensure safe passage for ambulances and medical personnel.

Sudan, a country at the crossroads of the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa, is known for its history of military coups and civil conflicts since it gained independence in the 1950s. The country has borders with six African nations and a strategic coastline on the Red Sea. A decade-old civil conflict resulted in the secession of South Sudan in 2011. The clashes will increase hardship in Sudan, where the U.N. says some 16 million people — or one-third of the population — already depend on humanitarian assistance.