LEICESTER, United Kingdom – An English bishop is drawing attention to the futility and destruction of the civil war in Sudan, which has resulted in around 12,000 casualties, an estimated 9 million displaced, and 25 million in need of aid.

The civil war started in April 2023, involving fighting between the Sudan Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces, a paramilitary group.

For months, the Sudanese army has struggled to against the paramilitary forces, who have overrun most of Darfur and large parts of South Kordofan in western Sudan. More recently, the paramilitary troops have made progress in central and eastern Sudan.

Bishop Paul Swarbrick of Lancaster is the Lead Bishop for Africa for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

“The cessation of violence is so important so that they can look at the damage that has been done, and take a step back from it, rather than using it as an opportunity to rearm and rebuild their aggression. There is going to be no winner if they carry on like this,” he said.

“It seems particularly difficult to get the sides to sit down together and discuss terms on which the future might be built for the country. It’s just a desperately bad situation that seems to be getting worse,” the bishop said.

More than 553,000 Sudanese refugees have fled to Chad since the conflict started, with 40 percent of the children who arrive at an emergency clinic at a reception camp experiencing acute malnutrition, according to the Voice of America news.

The news organization says the rate of malnutrition in the refugee camps in Chad is above the WHO emergency threshold of 15 percent, limiting access to care for refugees who arrived before the onset of the Sudanese crisis.

“The impact of this conflict spans three countries — Sudan, South Sudan and Chad — and has created the world’s largest displacement crisis,” said Michael Dunford, WFP’s regional director for Eastern Africa.

“Almost a year into the war and we’re seeing no signs that the number of families fleeing across borders will slow. The children and women who are crossing to South Sudan or Chad are hungry and arriving with no resources,” he told Voice of America.

“Unless this conflict is resolved, unfettered access is granted to humanitarian agencies, and funding is received, this crisis will only worsen,” Dunford said.

Swarbrick said the Sudan may be forgotten as higher-profile conflicts rage elsewhere, including Gaza and Ukraine. He urged these conflicts not be looked at individually: “It is better to look at it as a family. It is not just one child who is sick, there are a number of children who are sick and you need to be aware of them at the same time … There are conflicts erupting everywhere and they are so contagious.”

The bishop noted that since the outbreak of the war, the bishops of Sudan and South Sudan have consistently called for more action from the international community.

He said that Catholics had a vital part to play in bringing about peace, including prayer, charitable works, and doing the utmost to be peacemakers in personal relationships.

“We have to believe in the power of prayer and the bishops of Sudan and South Sudan have also called for it. I encourage people to enter more deeply into prayer and see what the fruit of that is – not as escapism, but as a way to fortify ourselves,” Swarbrick said.

“It is also worthwhile to raise issues of political engagement and support through our own government and the role we can play internationally. That’s something we can take up with MPs [members of the British parliament], and potential MPs, as they begin campaigning. Don’t let the domestic scene crowd out the international scene. What happens abroad does affect us here in the UK,” he said.

“Also look at the way you deal with conflicts with people. Don’t let things flare up into irreconcilable problems. Practice healing, practice reconciliation, because it matters for everyone,” the bishop continued.

Pope Francis on Sunday urged Sudan’s warring army and paramilitary unites to bring peace to the country.

“I ask again the warring parties to stop this war, which causes so much damage to the people and the future of the country”, Francis said during his Angelus message.

“Let’s pray so that avenues of peace will soon be found for the future of beloved Sudan”, the pope said.