‘Concerted global push’ for Sudan ceasefire is essential: Guterres

“The world is forgetting about the people of Sudan” the UN chief warned on Monday, calling for a boost in humanitarian funding and a global push for peace to end a year of brutal fighting between rival militaries.

With attention over the weekend focused on the Middle East he said the conflict between the national army and Rapid Support Forces militia had turned into “a war being waged on the Sudanese people.”

“It is a war on the many thousands of civilians who have been killed, and tens of thousands more maimed for life, said UN Secretary-General António Guterres.

“It is a war on the 18 million people facing acute hunger and the communities now staring down the terrifying threat of famine in the months ahead.”

No aspect of civilian life has been spared, including rampant sexual violence and the targeting of aid convoys and aid workers.

Meanwhile, the violence which erupted in and around the capital Khartoum a year ago, has forced more than eight million to flee their homes while two million have become refugees.

One year on, half of Sudan’s population needs lifesaving assistance.

El Fasher tinderbox

Guterres said latest reports of escalating hostilities in El Fasher – the capital of North Darfur – “are a fresh cause for deep alarm.”

Over the weekend, RSF-affiliated militias attacked and burnt villages west of the city leading to widespread new displacement.

“Let me be clear:  Any attack on El Fasher would be devastating for civilians and could lead to full-blown intercommunal conflict across Darfur”, said the UN chief.

“It would also upend aid operations in an area already on the brink of famine, since El Fasher has always been a critical UN humanitarian hub. All parties must facilitate the safe, rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian personnel and supplies through all available routes into El Fasher.”

A path out of the nightmare

Noting the international conference on the Sudan crisis taking place in Paris on Monday, the Secretary-General said Sudanese “desperately need the support and generosity of the global community to help them through this nightmare.”

A $2.7 billion Humanitarian Response Plan for Sudan is only six per cent funded while the $1.4 billion Regional Refugee Response Plan was only seven per cent funded.

He said all combatants had made promises to ensure full humanitarian access to allow vital aid to reach civilians.

“They must heed the UN Security Council’s call to ensure rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access, and to protect civilians.”

But the Sudanese people need more than aid, “they need an end to the bloodshed. They need peace”, Guterres continued.

Political solution is the only solution

“The only path out of this horror is a political solution. At this critical moment, in addition to global support for aid, we need a concerted global push for a ceasefire in Sudan followed by a comprehensive peace process.”

He noted that his Personal Envoy, Ramtane Lamamra, is working tirelessly to mediate more talks between the rival generals.

“Coordinated international efforts will be essential to amplify joint action”, and work must continue on Sudan’s democratic transition, which was derailed by a military coup in late 2021.

He said this must be an inclusive process: “I will not relent in my calls for all parties to silence the guns and meet the aspirations of the Sudanese people for a peaceful and secure future.”

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