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UN: Sudan Could Descend Into Ethnic Violence

FILE: People gather to ride trucks as they flee during clashes between the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces and the army in Khartoum North, on April 26, 2023.

UNITED NATIONS HQ, NEW YORK - Fighting in Sudan could turn into an ethnic-driven conflict if the warring parties do not respect and extend a ceasefire that is supposed to begin Monday, the U.N. representative to the conflict said.

"The growing ethnicization of the conflict risks to expand and prolong it with implications for the region," U.N. special envoy to Sudan Volker Perthes told the U.N. Security Council.

Speaking hours before a one-week ceasefire was to begin between the two battling armed forces factions, Perthes said there were already signs last month that the fighting was threatening to split the country along ethnic and communal lines.

Those have only grown recently, he said.

"In parts of the country, fighting between the two armies or the two armed formations has sharpened into communal tensions, or triggered conflict between communities," he said.

"Warning signs of tribal mobilization are also reported in other parts of the country, particularly in South Kordofan," he said.

After establishing a stable ceasefire, he told the Security Council, the number two priority of the U.N. is "preventing the escalation or ethnicization of the conflict."

Perthes called the ceasefire, agreed on Saturday and set to begin at 1945 GMT on Monday, a "welcome development," even though fighting has continued through the day Monday.

"I continue to urge the parties to honor this agreement which they signed two days ago. They must stop the fighting. They must allow access for humanitarian relief, protect humanitarian workers and assets," he said.