NEW YORK CITY: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called on warring factions in Sudan to declare an immediate three-day ceasefire to coincide with the Eid Al-Fitr holiday, which begins on Friday and marks the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
It came during a press conference at the UN’s headquarters in New York after a virtual meeting with representatives of the African Union, the Arab League, the UN and the EU. Guterres said there had been a strong consensus among all participants in condemning the recent fighting in Sudan and calling for an end to hostilities.
“As an immediate priority, I appeal for a ceasefire to take place for at least three days, marking the Eid Al-Fitr celebrations,” he said.
A truce would give civilians who have been trapped in conflict zones a chance to get out, seek medical attention and obtain food and other essential supplies, he added.
At least 330 people have died and almost 3,200 have been wounded during fighting between rival military factions in Khartoum and other regions, according to Ahmed Al-Mandhari of the World Health Organization. He also said that 16 hospitals, including nine in Khartoum, are reportedly non-functional due to attacks and lack of supplies.
Guterres said a ceasefire would provide a respite from the fighting and be a first step toward a permanent resolution of the conflict and added: “I have been personally engaged in doing everything possible to make it happen.”
Fighting broke out in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, on April 15 between forces led by two generals who seized power in the country during a coup in 2021: Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, the head of Sudan’s regular army, and his deputy, Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, who commands the Rapid Support Forces, a heavily armed militia previously aligned with the army.
The fighting began amid a dispute between the two commanders over the planned integration of the RSF into the regular army, a key condition for a final agreement to resume Sudan’s derailed democratic transition. Another condition of any deal to return the country to civilian control is that the army be formally placed under civilian oversight.
Guterres said a ceasefire agreement should be followed by serious dialogue between the warring factions to agree a path toward a transition of power, starting with the appointment of a civilian government.
“The fighting must stop immediately,” he said. “I am deeply concerned about the terrible toll on civilians and the appalling humanitarian situation.”
Relief operations in the country are virtually impossible, he added, mainly because humanitarian facilities and assets, such as warehouses and vehicles, have been attacked, looted or stolen.
“Targeting humanitarian workers and assets must cease,” said Guterres. “I remind all parties of their obligations under international law, including the safety and security of humanitarian aid workers.”
He also expressed deep concern about the well-being of UN employees in the country who have been trapped in their homes in conflict zones, and pledged to continue working with all parties to establish a ceasefire and a political process to resolve the conflict. (Reuters)
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