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UN chief appeals for Sudan ceasefire, now: ‘Values of Ramadan must prevail’

The war between rival militaries Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), now in its eleventh month, has not only claimed thousands of lives but has created a massive internal displacement crisis.

More than six million are seeking refuge within Sudan and 1.7 million have been forced to flee to neighbouring countries.

Briefing ambassadors at the Security Council, Secretary-General António Guterres appealed to all parties in Sudan to observe a Ramadan ceasefire.

“I call on all parties in Sudan to honour the values of Ramadan by honouring a Ramadan cessation of hostilities,” he said.  

“This cessation of hostilities must lead to a definitive silencing of the guns across the country and set out a firm path towards lasting peace for the Sudanese people,” he added, stressing, “the values of Ramadan must prevail.”

‘Time is of the essence’

The UN chief’s plea came as the humanitarian crisis in Sudan reaches colossal proportions, with over half the population, or 25 million people, requiring life-saving assistance.

The conflict has also pushed 18 million into acute food insecurity, the highest number ever recorded during a harvest season.

“The United Nations and our humanitarian partners are doing everything we can to stem this suffering. But we are facing major challenges as we try to reach millions of people in need,” Mr. Guterres said.

He welcomed recent decisions by Sudanese authorities to facilitate humanitarian access but stressed the need for sustained efforts, including addressing chronic food insecurity in hard-to-reach areas.  

Calling on combatants to allow immediate and full humanitarian access to vulnerable populations, utilizing all available routes, the UN chief also urged the international community to support the underfunded 2024 Sudan Humanitarian Response Plan.

“Countless lives are at stake and time is of the essence,” he stressed.

Human rights crisis

Turning to the escalating human rights crisis, the Secretary-General expressed alarm over indiscriminate attacks, looting, arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances, torture, and the recruitment and detention of children.  

Reports of systematic conflict-related sexual violence, including rape and trafficking, added to the growing concerns.  

“I call on the parties to uphold their obligations under international humanitarian law, to protect civilians, and to facilitate safe and unimpeded humanitarian access, as they have committed to do,” said Mr. Guterres.

UNITAMS drawdown

Mr. Guterres expressed gratitude to the staff of the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) for their dedicated service and called for collective efforts to support Sudan’s path to sustainable peace.  

“Let us spare no effort to support the people of Sudan in their legitimate aspirations for a peaceful and secure future,” he urged.

In accordance with Security Council resolution 2715, UNITAMS formally ceased operations on 29 February.

Secretary-General Guterres addressing the Security Council.

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