UN Calls For Immediate Sudan Cease-Fire06/03 08:10
UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- The U.N. Security Council called Friday for an
immediate cease-fire in Sudan to be followed by a permanent halt to hostilities
and fresh efforts to reach a lasting democratic political settlement in the
The U.N.'s most powerful body strongly condemned all attacks on civilians
since fighting between rival generals vying for power broke out in mid-April
and called for "rapid, safe and unhindered access throughout Sudan" to help
millions in need.
The fighting has killed at least 866 civilians and wounded thousands more,
according to the Sudanese Doctors' Syndicate which tracks civilian casualties.
And more than 1.3 million people have fled their homes to try to escape the
violence, with over a million still in the country and 320,000 in neighboring
Egypt, South Sudan, Chad, Ethiopia, and the Central African Republic, according
to the U.N.'s International Organization for Migration.
The press statement from the council was issued before the council voted
unanimously to extend the U.N. political mission in Sudan for six months,
instead of a year, to give members time to see what happens on the ground and
consider its future.
United Arab Emirates Ambassador Lana Nusseibeh, the current council
president, called it "very positive" that all members not only voted to extend
the U.N. mission but united behind a "very substantive" statement "that lays
out the council's expectations of what should happen next in Sudan -- and that
is clearly an immediate and permanent cease-fire arrangement."
The Security Council underlined the need "for strengthened international
coordination and continued collaboration" and reaffirmed "their firm support
for African leadership," noting the African Union's six-point roadmap to
resolve the conflict as well as efforts by the Arab League and the regional
Gabon's U.N. Ambassador Michel Biang told the council after the vote that
the security situation in Sudan continues to worsen.
"The country is at a critical stage of its history with a heightened risk of
civil war if the conflict continues," he warned, speaking on behalf of the two
other African members on the council, Ghana and Mozambique, as well. "And there
is, if that occurs, a grave risk of serious consequences being visited upon all
countries in the region."
Biang stressed that the presence of the U.N. mission "is now more important
than ever before to coordinate the U.N.'s response to the complex challenges
plaguing the country."
On Wednesday, U.N. Secretary-General Antnio Guterres asked to brief the
council behind closed doors for only the fifth time since he took office in
January 2017 about the impact of the ongoing conflict on the U.N. mission known
as UNITAMS. It was established by the council on June 3, 2020, to provide
support to Sudan during its political transition to democratic rule.
In a brief statement to reporters after the meeting, the U.N. chief said he
told the 15 council members it's up to them to decide whether to continue the
political mission to Sudan or whether "it's time to end it."
Following the ouster of Sudanese strongman Omar al-Bashir in 2019, Sudan
embarked on a shaky democratic transition led by civilian and army leaders. But
the generals seized complete power in a coup in October 2021, before turning
against each other.
Sudanese leader Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan and Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo,
who heads the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, agreed to restore the
transition but clashed over the terms of the RSF's merger into the army, a
disagreement that exploded into open conflict on April 15.
A week ago, Burhan demanded in a letter to Guterres that the U.N. special
envoy to Sudan, Volker Perthes, be removed, saying his approach in pre-war
talks between the generals helped inflame the conflict and accusing him of
"being partisan." The U.N. chief was "shocked" by the letter.
After Wednesday's meeting, Guterres said he reaffirmed to the council "my
full confidence in Volker Perthes."
In Friday's statement, the Security Council reaffirmed support for UNITAMS,
which Perthes leads, though council members did not mention him in the
Late Thursday, the United States and Saudi Arabia announced that they were
suspending peace talks with representatives of the two generals that had been
taking place in the Saudi city of Jeddah since late May. Sudan's military had
suspended its participation in the talks Wednesday, citing "repeated
violations" by RSF forces of a U.S.-Saudi brokered humanitarian cease-fire,
including their continued occupation of hospitals and other civilian
infrastructure in the capital, Khartoum. The RSF said it "unconditionally backs
the Saudi-U.S. initiative."
The U.S.-Saudi joint statement said the talks were being suspended "as a
result of repeated serious violations of the short-term ceasefire and recent
ceasefire extension" on Monday.