May 23, 2024

Fighting has forcibly displaced more than eight million people, with millions more in need of food and humanitarian aid.

The United Nations Security Council has called for a ceasefire in Sudan to coincide with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and allow aid to get to 25 million people in desperate need of food with the humanitarian response at breaking point.

Fourteen countries on the 15-member council on Friday backed the resolution proposed by the United Kingdom, with only Russia abstaining on the vote that called on “all parties to the conflict to seek a sustainable resolution to the conflict through dialogue”.

Fighting has been raging in Sudan since April 15, 2023, pitting the army of General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan against the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) of General Mohamed Hamdan “Hemedti” Dagalo.

Tens of thousands of people have since been killed, 8.3 million have been forcibly displaced and the fighting has additionally destroyed infrastructure and crippled the economy.

Britain’s deputy UN ambassador, James Kariuki, urged the Sudanese Armed Forces and the RSF “to act on this united international call for peace and to silence the guns”.

The resolution called on all sides to adopt an immediate “cessation of hostilities” ahead of Ramadan, a time for fasting, prayer and reflection for Muslims worldwide.

It urged the warring parties to allow “unhindered” humanitarian access across borders and battlelines.

The resolution also expressed “grave concern over the spreading violence and the catastrophic and deteriorating humanitarian situation, including crisis levels, or worse, of acute food insecurity, particularly in Darfur”.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday said both sides should “honour the values of Ramadan by honouring a Ramadan cessation of hostilities” as he warned that the conflict threatens Sudan’s unity and “could ignite regional instability of dramatic proportions.”

The African Union also backed a halt to fighting during Ramadan which is expected to begin on or around Monday, depending on the sighting of the crescent moon.

While al-Burhan reportedly welcomed the UN chief’s appeal, the Sudanese Foreign Ministry issued a statement on Friday that set conditions for a ceasefire to be effective which included the RSF withdrawing from provinces they have taken control of. There has been no response from the RSF.

‘Road to famine’

Russia said Britain’s initiative was hypocritical since the UNSC had failed to call for an immediate ceasefire in Israel’s war on Gaza, because of the United States repeatedly wielding its veto to block resolutions.

“We have no illusions as to the true intentions of Western countries. However, the double standards look particularly glaring given that those same countries are dragging out the adoption of a document on a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, where a genuine massacre is taking place,” said Russia’s deputy UN ambassador, Anna Evstigneeva.

UN aid chief Martin Griffiths said humanitarian aid access in Sudan needs to be improved whether or not a ceasefire is declared.

Half of the country’s 50 million people are in need of aid and “just under 18 million people are on the road to famine,” Griffiths said, adding that 10 million more people “are in the category of food insecure than the same time last year”.

The UN’s $2.7bn humanitarian response plan for Sudan in 2024 is currently only 4 percent funded.

“We have no money,” Griffiths said, and “we want to put Sudan on the map.”

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