UAE sends arms after a promise to send aid to Sudan
UAE arms shipments support a war that has claimed more than 3,900 lives and work against efforts to put an end to the conflict.
Early in June, a cargo plane landed in Uganda's main airport with flight records indicating that it had been sent by the United Arab Emirates and was carrying aid for Sudanese refugees.
Ugandan authorities said they discovered dozens of green plastic crates in the plane's cargo hold that were stocked with ammo, assault weapons, and other small weaponry instead of the food and medical supplies indicated on the aircraft's manifest.
According to African and Middle Eastern sources, the weapons found on June 2 at Entebbe airport were part of a UAE plot to back Lt. Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, a warlord from Sudan who is fighting for control of the third-largest country in Africa.
According to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, the officials said that the UAE's secret arms shipments are igniting a conflict that has killed more than 3,900 people since it began on April 15 and plunged Sudan into a humanitarian catastrophe. Arming Dagalo's Rapid Support Forces militia might further tensions between the United Arab Emirates and the United States.
Human rights organizations and UN agencies have charged the RSF militia with violating human rights in Sudan, notably by killing civilians.
UAE 'supports peaceful resolution to conflict'
In response to inquiries from The Wall Street Journal, the government of the UAE stated that it supports a peaceful resolution to the situation in Sudan and "seeks to provide all forms of support to alleviate humanitarian suffering." It claimed it had built a field hospital in the neighboring country of Chad and provided some 2,000 metric tons of humanitarian goods, including food and medical supplies, to those afflicted by the fighting.
According to an RSF official, the organization does not receive weapons or other military supplies from the United Arab Emirates, and its fighters have not engaged in rights violations.
UN observers have already charged Abu Dhabi with supplying Khalifa Haftar, a militia leader in Libya, Sudan's northwest neighbor, with weapons such as drones, laser-guided bombs, and armored vehicles.
More than four million people have been forced from their homes as a result of the battle between Dagalo's RSF and the Sudanese Armed Forces, and the UN estimates that 24 million people -- ouroughlyalf the nation's population -- now require food and other humanitarian relief. Over 300,000 refugees have crossed into Chad from the RSF stronghold of Darfur. That cargo was designated as humanitarian aid for those refugees in the flight manifest on the 2nd of June.
Since May, American and Saudi Arabian officials have been facilitating peace talks in Jeddah; however, formal talks were interrupted in June as a result of RSF and military cease-fire violations.
"We would be concerned about reports of any outside support to either of the conflict parties," a State Department spokesman said.
Ugandan officials not allowed to inspect UAE planes anymore
According to those who are familiar with the Biden administration's approach to Africa, Washington is aware of the UAE's arms transfers to the RSF and has voiced its concerns to the Abu Dhabi government.
The Emirati airliner was reportedly given permission to continue its journey to Amdjarass International Airport in eastern Chad, according to Ugandan officials who discovered the weapons and ammunition on the flight on June 2. These officials said that later, their superiors gave them orders to stop checking flights coming in from the UAE. There have been many more flights in recent weeks.
"We are not allowed to inspect these planes anymore. They are now the responsibility of the defense ministry," one of the officials said. "We have been warned not to take any pictures."
Trucks carrying military supplies from the UAE left Amdjarass airport in the last week of July for Sudan's Al-Zarq region, an RSF stronghold in northern Darfur, according to an African source and a former US official.