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UN Security Council meets about the ongoing power struggle in Sudan

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

In Sudan, a conflict that started as a rivalry between two generals is now threatening to engulf the whole region. That is what officials from the United Nations are warning. Fighting has intensified in the capital, Khartoum, in the past few days. A number of speakers gave harrowing accounts of the war at a U.N. Security Council meeting today, as NPR's Michele Kelemen reports.

MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: A top U.N. aid official says millions of people remain trapped in what she calls a humanitarian calamity. Edem Wosornu was in Sudan recently talking to women and girls who she says are facing violence on a sickening scale.

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EDEM WOSORNU: They told me stories of sexual violence, harassment and physical assault, of husbands disappearing, never to be seen again - of education interrupted, careers ruined and livelihoods lost.

KELEMEN: While the conflict started in the capital, Khartoum, in April, fighting has spread to Darfur, the scene of a genocide just two decades ago. The U.N.'s assistant secretary-general for Africa, Martha Ama Akyaa Pobee, is raising alarms about that.

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MARTHA AMA AKYAA POBEE: This is deeply worrying and could quickly engulf the country in a prolonged ethnic conflict with regional spillovers.

KELEMEN: She says there needs to be a negotiated solution as soon as possible.

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POBEE: Calls by some to continue the war in order to achieve a military victory will only contribute to destroying the country.

KELEMEN: But international diplomacy hasn't worked to end the conflict between Sudan's army and the Rapid Support Forces, a rival paramilitary. The U.N. envoy has been declared persona non grata. And Sudan warned that it could close the whole U.N. mission down if the envoy were allowed to speak to the security council. That's according to U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who chaired the meeting.

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LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD: And that was really outrageous. No country should be able to bully a briefer into silence, let alone the United Nations.

KELEMEN: Sudan's ambassador denies his country is acting like a bully, but he wants diplomats to do more to condemn the Rapid Support Forces. Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield says the RSF and its allies have carried out atrocities in Darfur, as they did during the genocide.

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THOMAS-GREENFIELD: One of the worst chapters of recent history is repeating itself, and it's beyond horrifying.

KELEMEN: She says both sides must put a stop to what she calls a senseless war.

Michele Kelemen, NPR News, the State Department.

(SOUNDBITE OF GHOSTFACE KILLAH AND BADBADNOTGOOD SONG, "SOUR SOUL") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Michele Kelemen has been with NPR for two decades, starting as NPR's Moscow bureau chief and now covering the State Department and Washington's diplomatic corps. Her reports can be heard on all NPR News programs, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered.