Guterres calls on world not to forget civil war in Sudan

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Marking what he called a heart-breaking milestone of one year since the outbreak a civil war in Sudan, the United Nations Secretary General believes the world is forgetting about the northeast African country.

Addressing journalists in New York, Antonio Guterres warned that while the world was focused on escalating tensions in the Middle East, other dramatic life and death emergencies, like the one in Sudan, were being swept into the shadows.

Over 14 000 people have died since the Sudan Armed Forces and the Rapid Paramilitary Forces began their power struggle that has essentially waged war on the people of Sudan with dramatic humanitarian consequences.

It has been 12 months since Sudan’s political transition collapsed and military factions took up arms against each other. Almost half the population, some 25 million people need life-saving assistance, 8 million displaced and almost 2 million who have fled across borders.

“This is more than a conflict between two warring parties. It is a war being waged on the Sudanese people. It is a war on the many thousands of civilians who have been killed and tens of thousands more maimed for life. It is a war on the 18 million people facing acute hunger and the communities now staring down the terrifying threat of famine in the months ahead. It is a war on villages, homes, hospitals, schools and vital systems that have been reduced to rubble in conflict hotspots. And it is a war on human rights and international humanitarian law,” says Guterres.

The United Nations says indiscriminate attacks are killing, injuring and terrorizing civilians, actions that could amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Aid convoys have been targeted, humanitarian personnel and warehouses have been attacked while women and girls have been subjected to rampant sexual violence. Escalating hostilities in El-Fasher, the capital of North Darfur, are described as a fresh cause for deep alarm, a region all too familiar with atrocity crimes including genocide between 2003 and 2005.

“Over the weekend, RSF-affiliated militias attacked and burnt villages west of the city, leading to widespread new displacement and fears of a takeover of El Fasher. Counter attacks have led to more deaths and injuries. Let me be clear: Any attack on El Fasher would be devastating for civilians and could lead to full-blown inter-communal conflict across Darfur. It would also upend aid operations in an area already on the brink of famine, since El Fasher has always been a critical UN humanitarian hub.”

France has announced that a donor conference in Paris has mobilized more than 2 billion euro, money needed plug the vast gaps in funding for the 2.7 billion dollar Humanitarian Response Plan which was only 6% funded and the 1.4 billion dollar Regional Refugee Response Plan which remained only 7% funded. All this while Guterres pointed to the urgent need for a political roadmap.

“At the same time, as reflected in their commitments made in Jeddah, all parties must ensure full humanitarian access – across borders and battle lines – so vital aid can get to where it’s needed most. They must heed the UN Security Council’s call to ensure rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access, and to protect civilians. But the Sudanese people need more than humanitarian support. They need an end to the bloodshed. They need peace. The only path out of this horror is a political solution. At this critical moment, in addition to global support for aid, we need a concerted global push for a ceasefire in Sudan followed by a comprehensive peace process.”

Guterres has urged coordinated international efforts needed to amplify joint action including from the African Union, regional bloc IGAD, the League of Arab States and key UN member states with influence over the parties.