Keeping the Sudan on the agenda: Germany, France and the EU organise an international conference

Foreign Minister Baerbock in the Gorom refugee camp (South Sudan, 26 January 2024)

Foreign Minister Baerbock in the Gorom refugee camp (South Sudan, 26 January 2024), © Florian Gaertner

15.04.2024 - Article

Foreign Minister Baerbock, her French counterpart Séjourné and the EU want to use an international conference to mobilise international assistance for the suffering people in the Sudan and inject new momentum into mediation efforts in the civil war.

At the start of 2023, the people in the Sudan and the international community were full of hope. A breakthrough for the transition to a civilian government was within reach. But then everything changed. On 15 April 2023, two power-hungry generals who did not want to share their sinecures dragged the Sudan into a brutal war that is still ongoing.

The year-long civil war has taken a dramatic toll: almost 15,000 lives have been lost and around 8.5 million people displaced, the healthcare system has collapsed and the country been reduced to rubble. The images from Darfur in particular evoke grim recollections of the genocide that was committed there 20 years ago. The regional repercussions are enormous, too. Neighbouring countries, many of which are desperately poor, have taken in 1.9 million refugees from the Sudan in recent months.

Since the start of the conflict, many international players have attempted to mediate in the war in order to bring about a ceasefire and better humanitarian assistance – sadly without long-term success. The parties to the conflict have played off the mediation initiatives against one another, have not complied with agreements and ignored UN Security Council resolutions.

The Paris Sudan conference

During her trip to the neighbours of the Sudan in January 2024, Foreign Minister Baerbock proposed a five-point initiative designed to lend more weight to international peace efforts. One central point of the initiative is to better coordinate international mediation efforts in order to increase the pressure on the parties to the conflict.

This is where the Paris Sudan conference comes in. For the first time, all relevant stakeholders working to find a solution to the conflict in the Sudan are convening at a high level at the invitation of Foreign Minister Baerbock, France’s Foreign Minister Séjourné and the EU to agree on a joint approach.

Alleviating the humanitarian crisis

The humanitarian situation in the Sudan is disastrous. Around half of the Sudanese population – 25 million people – is in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. The UN estimates that 2.5 billion euro are needed to overcome the humanitarian crisis in the Sudan and save thousands of people from starvation.

The situation is also dramatic in the countries in the neighbourhood of the Sudan. There, we are witnessing one of the largest refugee crises in the world. Foreign Minister Baerbock visited one of the many overflowing refugee camps in South Sudan in January.

One of the goals of the Paris Sudan conference is therefore to obtain pledges of assistance from all over the world. Here, the German Government intends to lead by example.

Bringing together the Sudanese civil society

To date, the civilian players in the Sudan have not managed to find a common political stance on which as many representatives of different positions as possible can agree. The Paris Sudan conference therefore provides the Sudanese civilian players with a platform that enables them to come together, join forces and develop a common vision for a democratic Sudan. They were in the front row when the Sudanese people removed the dictator al-Bashir from office in 2019. Many of them then assumed governmental responsibility before the military seized power in 2021 following a coup.


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