JUBA, SOUTH SUDAN - As fighting in Sudan enters its third month, the Sudanese military leader, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, has reiterated his call for young people to take up arms against the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, or RSF.
Some citizens see the call as a national duty.
“People have the right to take up arms, so they are able to defend themselves and their country," said Abdulazeem Ishaaq, a Sudanese citizen in Khartoum.
Ishaaq told VOA he had encouraged his son Mohammed, 32, to join the army and contribute to defending the country.
He said al-Burhan’s call was overdue. Citizens, he said, "should collectively take up arms to defend their country. ... While establishment of a civilian government remains valid, right now all must stand alongside the military to defend the country.”
The United Nations has said at least 3,000 people have been killed and 2.8 million people have been displaced in the conflict.
Khadijah Muatez, 35, a mother of three boys and two girls, said the call to arms would place more young people in harm’s way, and that they would not be well trained.
“This means we are going to witness growing numbers of orphans and widows across the country," she said, "and women will be the ones taking the burden of all the responsibilities.”
This week, a Sudanese military official showed some video of dozens of people in civilian clothes parading in one of the military barracks in Omdurman.
Nabeel Abdallah, Sudan’s military spokesperson, confirmed to VOA that thousands of volunteers have registered across Sudan, and that they now are undergoing some basic training before they are sent to fight.
Abdallah said “the youth have responded positively, and they are registering in thousands across the country." He said most citizens "have been demanding such a move since the beginning of the war.”
Yousif Ezzat, political adviser to the RSF commander, condemned the call by al-Burhan for young people to join the fight as a “clear” sign of defeat and said it was a crime. He told VOA the RSF was determined to continue fighting what he described as “elements” of the Islamist government of ousted President Omar al-Bashir.
Ezzat accused the military of obstructing the establishment of a democratic civilian-led government in Sudan.
"We will try to solve this problem once and forever," he said. "Nobody will fight [other] tribes, and we don’t want tribalism to be involved in this issue. This is a national war, it is about the national agenda, future of Sudan, to solve the root cause of the conflict.”
Regional and international mediation efforts have not been successful since fighting erupted April 15.