Pope Francis on Sunday called for dialogue between warring military factions in Sudan as a bloody outbreak of fighting entered a second week.
“Unfortunately the situation remains grave in Sudan.
“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.
Ferocious battles between the Sudanese army and a paramilitary group – which has seen fighting with tanks in densely populated Khartoum and air strikes launched by fighter jets – have killed more than 400 people and left thousands wounded.
The fighting between army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan’s forces and the rival Rapid Support Forces (RSF) of his former deputy Mohamed Hamdan Daglo began on April 15 over a dispute on the planned integration of the RSF into the regular army.
The move was a key condition of a deal aimed at restoring Sudan’s democratic transition after the military toppled former leader Omar al-Bashir in April 2019 following mass citizen protests.
The two men had joined forces to oust a civilian government installed after Bashir’s downfall, before turning on each other.