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UN chief, fearing spread of conflict, urges Ramadan truce in Sudan

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged the warring parties in Sudan to agree to halt hostilities during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, a move the Security Council is also considering.

“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,” Guterres told the 15-member Security Council.

“There is now a serious risk that the conflict could ignite regional instability of dramatic proportions, from the Sahel to the Horn of Africa and the Red Sea.”

The Security Council is negotiating a British-drafted resolution that would also call for a truce for Ramadan, which begins early next week, in the nearly year-long war between the Sudanese army and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces.

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British deputy U.N. Ambassador James Kariuki said they hoped to put the draft text to a vote on Friday. A resolution needs at least nine votes in favor and no vetoes by the United States, Russia, Britain, China or France to be adopted.

The United States says the warring parties have committed war crimes and the RSF and allied militias have also committed crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing. The U.N. says nearly 25 million people – half Sudan’s population – need aid, some 8 million have fled their homes and hunger is rising.

“Hunger is stalking Sudan. Some 18 million people are acutely food insecure. This is the highest number ever recorded during a harvest season, yet numbers are expected to surge even higher in the coming months,” Guterres said. “We are already receiving reports of children dying from malnutrition.”

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Between 10,000 and 15,000 people were killed in one city alone in Sudan’s West Darfur region last year in ethnic violence by the RSF and allied Arab militia, according to a U.N. sanctions monitors report seen by Reuters in January.

“The human rights situation continues to spiral out of control throughout Sudan,” Guterres said.

Since war erupted on April 15, 2023, the council has only issued three press statements condemning the violence and expressing concern. It then echoed that language in a resolution in December that shut down a U.N. political mission – following a request from Sudan’s acting foreign minister.

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By MICHELLE NICHOLS

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