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Tigray interim admin refutes RSF allegations of ‘TPLF forces’ involvement in Sudan conflict, criticizes move as ‘aimed at garnering support by internationalizing the war’

Since the onset of the civil war in Sudan on 15 April, 2023, involving the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) led by General Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo (left) and the Sudanese army under General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, approximately 12,000 civilians have lost their lives, according to the UN (Photo: AFP)

Addis Abeba – The Tigray Interim Administration has issued a strong rebuttal to what it has termed a “baseless claim” by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), which accused Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) forces of “participating in the Sudanese civil war” alongside the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF). The administration “vehemently denied” any such involvement.

In a communiqué dated 06 May, 2024, the interim administration of Tigray formally addressed the allegations made by RSF, stating that the claims are “apparently designed to shore up international support for its campaign against the SAF by internationalizing the tragic civil war.”

Further, the administration’s statement declared: “the RSF’s allegation that TPLF fighters were taking part in the Sudanese civil war is based on nothing more than a fecund imagination.”

The administration’s communiqué was released subsequent to a pronouncement made on 05 May, 2024, by the Office of the Official Spokesperson for the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). This preceding announcement claimed the RSF had obtained credible evidence suggesting that “forces from the TPLF are fighting alongside the SAF and its allied militias connected to the terrorist former regime.”

The RSF leveled accusations against the Sudanese army, contending that since the outset of the civil conflict in Sudan, the SAF has actively solicited support from foreign mercenaries and entities across various nations.

According to the RSF, these external entities have provided extensive support to the SAF, encompassing diverse operational domains such as air force operations, engineering tasks, artillery maneuvers, the deployment of military drones, and engagement in information warfare.

The statement by the RSF further elucidated, “Our advanced surveillance systems have documented the deaths of numerous mercenaries killed in combat and tracked their remains as they were repatriated through Port Sudan Airport last November and December.”

The civil war erupted in Sudan on 15 April, 2023, pitting two factions of the military government against each other: the SAF and the RSF.

Allegations of foreign involvement in exacerbating the conflict have been rampant on both sides.

In November 2023, the Sudanese army, led by General Abdul Fattah al-Burhan, accused the United Arab Emirates (UAE) of supporting the RSF and facilitating the transfer of supplies through countries including Uganda.

In response, the UAE stated its support for diplomatic resolutions to the Sudanese crisis, while Uganda refuted the accusations as unfounded.

In response to the recent allegations, the interim administration of Tigray has issued a “strong condemnation” of the claims presented by the RSF. The administration asserts that “the TPLF operates solely as a political entity without any armed faction or organized militia under its command.”

The administration emphasizes the enduring fraternal rapport between the people of Tigray and Sudan, characterized by longevity and mutual respect.

Um Rakuba refugee camp which was reopened in November 2020 to accommodate Ethiopians fleeing war in the Tigray region (Photo: WFP)

Recalling the outset of the Tigray war, the interim administration reflects on the exodus of tens of thousands of Tigrayans from their homes in Western Tigray to seek refuge in Sudan, confident in finding sanctuary.

“Despite confronting internal adversities, the Sudanese populace and government have diligently extended aid and protection to the distressed refugees,” reads the statement.

“Given these circumstances,” the interim administration, led by Getachew Reda, emphasized that “Tigray has no inclination to intervene in the ongoing civil strife, recognizing Sudan as a cherished sanctuary for Tigrayans.”

Since early November 2020, Ethiopian refugees escaping the severe war in Tigray have sought refuge in several refugee camps, including those situated in Tunaydbah and Um Rakuba in Eastern Sudan.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Sudan has provided refuge and aid to approximately 58,000 Ethiopian refugees and asylum seekers since November 2020. However, refugees in these camps estimate the total population to be as high as 80,000 individuals.

According to the United Nations, by the end of 2023, approximately 12,000 civilians had lost their lives in Sudan’s civil war, although the actual death toll is suspected to be significantly higher.

Moreover, nearly half of Sudan’s 49 million people are in dire need of humanitarian assistance. 

Despite more than a year of relentless fighting, the devastating civil war shows no signs of abating, with diplomatic interventions thus far failing to bring about a resolution to the conflict. AS

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