Pope Francis has called for dialogue between warring military factions in Sudan as a bloody outbreak of fighting entered a second week.
Fighting in Sudan between the forces of two rival generals erupted on April 15, killing more than 400 people, igniting a humanitarian catastrophe, and raising fears of a prolonged and unpredictable civil war.
Battles continue to rage in the capital, Khartoum, and elsewhere between troops loyal to army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and Mohamed “Hemedti” Hamdan Daglo, commander of the powerful paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).
Analysts warn the conflict could draw in foreign armed groups and regional powers, and may have far-reaching consequences, not only for the northeast African country but also for an already unstable region.
Battles have increased swiftly, engulfing Khartoum and its twin city Omdurman and several other regions, especially Darfur.
“Unfortunately the situation remains grave in Sudan, says the Pope in a statement released.
“That is why I am renewing my call for the violence to stop as quickly as possible and for dialogue to resume,” the pontiff said during traditional Sunday prayers in Saint Peter’s Square in Rome.
“I invite everyone to pray for our Sudanese brothers and sisters,” he added.
France, Italy, Turkey and the United States are all evacuating citizens from Sudan.
The two men had joined forces to oust a civilian government installed after Bashir’s downfall, before turning on each other.