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A Prayer for Sudan

With the streets taken over by soldiers fighting each other viciously, there is little the civilians can do other than pray. And prayer is just what the Holy Father is asking for Sudan.

War broke out in Sudan on April 15 between two generals- Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the current president, who has the army under his command, and Mohammed Hamdan Daglo, the vice president, also known as Hemedti, who controls the Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

The hostilities have already left hundreds dead and thousands injured. Shops are closed, hospitals are not functioning, and food and water are in short supply. Foreign countries are withdrawing their nationals from the conflict zone. Desperate Sudanese citizens are also fleeing to neighboring countries.   

In 2019, the bloody dictator Omar al-Bashir who had ruled Sudan for 30 years was overthrown. But the two most powerful army chiefs of the military government did not allow the transition to a civilian government and democracy.

The political power for which the two contenders are fighting is seen as an indispensable means for personal enrichment. And there is the looming risk the civil war that just begun may involve other internal and even external forces.

In fact, this is a power struggle about who will rule and how, interests, power, wealth and the integration of the paramilitary forces, known as RSF, into the national army. Negotiations over the integration of this paramilitary group into the army were a stumbling block between the two commanders. Initially partners in government, they became enemies sparking the current military confrontation.

There is another important fact for understanding this war. Sudan is the third largest gold producer in Africa, and General Hemedti owns gold mines in the north of the country. Up to $16 billion goes to the United Arab Emirates every year. Hemedti has made gold his business. Gold is his power and one of his interests, according to local sources.

The violence has erupted in the streets of major cities and is affecting the entire population, including the small Catholic community. According to sources of the Aid to the Church in Need Foundation, the life of faith continues only in people’s houses as believers, priests and religious cannot leave their homes and Sunday Masses have been suspended.

The situation is serious from a humanitarian and security standpoint. With the streets taken over by soldiers fighting each other viciously, there is little the civilians can do other than pray. And prayer is just what the Holy Father is asking for Sudan.

After the Marian prayer of the Regina Coeli on Sunday, Pope Francis renewed his closeness to this African country that is turning into a battlefield. “Unfortunately, the situation in Sudan remains grave: I renew my appeal once again to cease the violence as soon as possible and to resume the path of dialogue. I invite everyone to pray for our Sudanese brothers and sisters.”

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