The African Union MUST act now to avoid further loss of life in Sudan

Published: 16 Apr 2023


60 years into Africa’s unity, the African Union cannot afford to sit back and watch conflict harm and affect the lives of Africans again and again. Silencing the guns and taking decisive action against autocracy, to protect African lives must be the clarion call for 21st Century Pan Africanism. Achieng Akena, Executive Director, International Refugee Rights Initiative (IRRI).

We, Africans for the Horn of Africa (Af4HA) Initiative are gravely concerned about the developing situation in Sudan. Since the outbreak of conflict between Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) on 15 April 2023, has already claimed more than 50 Sudanese lives and seen several thousand injured. The two generals who lead the two factions, Gen Abdul Fattah Al Burhan and Gen Mohamed Hamdan Daglo (alias Hemedti) usurped the will of the Sudanese people by toppling a transitional government that was working on moving the country from autocracy to a democratic government following civilian protests in 2019. This latest conflict between the two armed factions does not represent the will of the people, who continue to put their lives at risk in calling for a return to democratic civilian rule.

The African Union must take immediate action to secure a cessation of hostilities, protect Sudanese civilians and find a permanent resolution to the long drawn-out conflict. Failure to do so demonstrates serious disregard for the AU Constitutive Act and the Peace and Security Protocol which proffer a responsibility on the AU to do so.

We commend the emergency meetings of the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) and the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), convened in solidarity with the people of Sudan, and urge both bodies to quickly and efficiently deploy their vast assets to diffuse the crisis.

We call on the AU to take decisive and appropriate action, bearing in mind that the two Generals continue to act with impunity, refusing to return the country to civilian rule which led to the suspension of Sudan from the AU. To date, there is nothing in the behaviour of the actors that indicates willingness to abide by any such agreement and plan and this cannot continue to be ignored by all stakeholders and guarantors of Sudan’s peace and transitional processes.

The AU has a varied toolkit for responding to atrocity situations, in addition to its experiences in dealing with active hostilities. AU Member States must invest all their financial, diplomatic, political and influential resources in keeping Africans safe and well.

Dismas Nkunda, Executive Director, Atrocities Watch Africa (AWA)


We also urge the Member States of IGAD, within the principle of subsidiarity, to actively engage and impress upon on General Burhan and Hemedti in Sudan to immediately cease hostilities and continue with the process to return Sudan back to democratic governance. IGAD Member States should continue to be engaged in the process and act as guarantors and custodians of democratic rule in the country.

We note with grave concern, the knock-on effect of instability and fighting in Sudan on neighbouring countries and other regions including the rest of the Horn, East and Central Africa and the Lake Chad Basin. The mix of volatility from active armed conflict, criminal networks, climate insecurity and political uncertainty in these countries and Sudan, bode doom for civilians across several borders. The continent and the world are not prepared for such an eventuality. Decisive action must be taken now.

We call on the international community to focus their assets and resources on ensuring the cessation of hostilities and the protection of civilians.

Given the fragility of the Horn of Africa region, it is critical that all actors remain seized of all the peace and security threats in the region, and apply robust whole-of-region approaches to peace and security interventions. A piecemeal approach focussing on only one conflict can allow other conflicts to simmer and escalate, and overwhelm the peace and security response machinery.

In the coming days Af4HA Initiative will convene wider discussions and consultations amongst African citizens regarding the situation in Sudan. Visit us on Twitter @Af4HA for updates.

For further information please contact Achieng Akena at or Dismas Nkunda


About Africans for the Horn of Africa (Af4HA) Initiative

Africans for the Horn of Africa (Af4HA) Initiative is a solidarity platform established to amplify, citizen action and voice in the response and resolution of the crises that increasingly plague the Horn of Africa. Given the regional dimension of most conflicts in the Horn of Africa, it is important that Africans in the Horn of Africa unite and engage collaboratively, in engaging and articulating the necessary policy recommendations and action with governments, national, regional and international organisations striving for peace, security and good governance in Africa.

The Initiative was born out of recognition of the need to facilitate and strengthen engagement by Africans in ongoing processes seeking to address conflicts and governance challenges in the Horn of Africa region. The Initiative is led by four non-governmental African organisations; Atrocities Watch Africa (AWA), Pan African Lawyers Union (PALU), the African Leadership Centre (ALC) and the International Refugee Rights Initiative (IRRI).