The United Arab Emirates Sunday denied a report claiming weapons were found in its aid shipments to refugees of the Sudan war, arguing it “does not take sides” in the conflict.
Fighting since April 15 between the forces of rival Sudanese generals vying for power has killed at least 3,900 people, according to conservative estimates by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project.
Observers say that both army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his former deputy Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, who commands the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), are supported by foreign powers, with neighboring Egypt backing Burhan and the UAE providing support for Daglo.
In a statement on Sunday, UAE foreign ministry communications director Afra Al Hameli said “the UAE has not supplied arms and ammunition to any of the warring parties in Sudan since the outbreak of the conflict.”
A report on Thursday by US publication The Wall Street Journal cited officials in Uganda who said they had discovered weapons on an Emirati aid flight to Sudanese refugees in Chad on June 2.
Hameli “expressed the UAE’s categorical refutation of the claims and allegations in the story,” the statement said.
“The UAE does not take sides in the current conflict engulfing Sudan, and seeks an end to the conflict and calls for respecting Sudan’s sovereignty.”
According to The Wall Street Journal, “instead of the food and medical supplies listed on the aircraft’s manifest, Ugandan officials said they found dozens of green plastic crates in the plane’s cargo hold filled with ammunition, assault rifles and other small arms.”
The Ugandan officials told the newspaper the Emirati plane, stopping in Entebbe on the way to its final destination, “was allowed to continue its trip to Amdjarass International Airport in eastern Chad.”
The officials later “received orders from their superiors to stop inspecting flights stopping over from the UAE,” according to the report.
The four-month conflict in Sudan has displaced nearly four million people, according to UN figures.
Since the fighting erupted, the oil-rich UAE has sent aid including medications and has also helped to evacuate foreigners, official news agency WAM noted.