The Sudanese government no longer welcomes the UN envoy, a mediator in the conflict

CAIRO (AP) – The United Nations envoy to Sudan, a key mediator in the country’s brutal conflict, is no longer welcome in the African country, Sudanese authorities say.

A terse statement from Sudan’s foreign ministry late Thursday comes just weeks after the country’s military chief, General Abdel Fattah Burhan, wrote a letter to envoy Volker Perthes demanding that he be removed from his post.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has been informed that Perthes has been officially declared “persona non grata,” the Foreign Ministry said.

Since April 15, the Sudanese military led by Burhan and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces led by General Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo have been engaged in a violent power struggle that has killed more than 860 civilians, according to the Sudan Doctors’ Syndicate Tracking Civilian Casualties . The actual death toll is likely to be far higher.

Perthes has been a key mediator in Sudan since his appointment as special envoy in 2021, first during the country’s failed attempts at transition to democracy and then as relations between the military and the RSF soured. Fierce fighting broke out last month.

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Neither the UN nor Volker commented immediately.

In recent months, the German diplomat has received death threats and numerous calls for his resignation. In his letter last month, Burhan accused Perthes of “being partisan” and having made a negative contribution to pre-war talks between the generals and pro-democracy groups in the weeks leading up to the conflict.

In response to those allegations, Volker told The Associated Press that those who threatened him were marginal “extremists” and that the UN’s efforts in Sudan, which has moved its headquarters to the coastal city of Port Sudan, are greatly appreciated.

The conflict between the two generals has turned Khartoum into an urban battleground, with many neighborhoods without running water or electricity. There were reports of widespread looting and sexual violence, including the rape of women and girls, in Khartoum and western Darfur, where the worst fighting of the conflict took place. Almost all reported sexual assault cases have been attributed to RSF, which has not responded to repeated requests for comment.

On Wednesday, 297 children were rescued from an orphanage in the Sudanese capital after being trapped there while fighting raged outside, UNICEF said. The evacuation came after 71 children had died of starvation and disease at the facility since mid-April.

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