UN chief calls for ceasefire in Sudan

Ahead of the Ramadan fasting scheduled to begin on 11th of March, the United Nation, UN, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday called for an immediate ceasefire in Sudan and unhindered humanitarian access as the country teeters on the brink of further disintegration.

The war between rival militaries Sudanese Armed Forces, and the Rapid Support Forces, 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 neighboring countries.

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

“I call on all parties in Sudan to honor the values of Ramadan by honoring a Ramadan cessation of hostilities.

“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.

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Guterres stressed that, “the values of Ramadan must prevail.”

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

The conflict has also pushed about 18 million people into acute hunger, 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,” Guterres said.

The UN chief, welcoming recent decisions by Sudanese authorities to facilitate humanitarian access, emphasized 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, Guterres 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.

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,” Guterres said.

Guterres, however, expressed gratitude to the staff of the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan 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.

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