Sudan facing ‘humanitarian catastrophe’, says UN chief

Antonio Guterres is in Nairobi for two-day official visit to hold talks with Kenya's President William Ruto

A Sudanese girl with British citizenship waves goodbye to loved ones from a bus before being processed for evacuation. Reuters
Powered by automated translation

Follow the latest Sudan updates here

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday called on the international community to support Sudan as the African nation faces a “humanitarian catastrophe”.

“Khartoum is in turmoil; Darfur is burning once again,” Mr Guterres told reporters in Nairobi.

“The Sudanese are facing a humanitarian catastrophe. Hospitals destroyed. Humanitarian warehouses looted. Millions facing food insecurity," he said. “We need secure and immediate access to distribute aid to people who need it most."

He urged all parties to put the “interests of the Sudanese people first” and for the fighting to stop before the conflict “explodes into an all-out war that could affect the region for years to come”.

Mr Guterres is in Nairobi for a two-day official visit to hold talks with Kenya's President William Ruto on the security and humanitarian situation in Sudan. He echoed Mr Ruto’s calls for de-escalation, a return to the negotiating table and an agreement on a lasting ceasefire.

“It's important that the whole of the international community comes together and tell clearly the two generals but also all those that eventually are taking profit of this, that the present situation is totally unacceptable,” he said, referring to Sudanese military leader Gen Abdel Fattah Al Burhan and leader of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces Gen Mohamed Dagalo.

“A lasting ceasefire needs to take place. Unfortunately, we are not yet there.”

On Tuesday, the foreign ministry of neighbouring South Sudan announced that Gen Burhan and Gen Daglo "have agreed in principle for a seven-day truce from May 4 to 11".

Earlier truces between the RSF and the army, whose internal power struggle escalated into open confrontation in mid-April, have varied in duration from 24 to 72 hours. However, none of them have been adhered to completely.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi warned on Tuesday that the fighting in neighbouring Sudan was affecting "the entire region".

The Saudi-headquartered Organisation of Islamic Cooperation on Wednesday held an emergency meeting to discuss the situation in Sudan.

The conflict has created a humanitarian crisis, with about 100,000 people forced to flee — often with little food or water — to neighbouring countries, according to the UN.

UN aid chief Martin Griffiths arrived in Port Sudan on the Red Sea coast early on Wednesday on an urgent mission to find ways to bring relief to the millions of Sudanese affected by the conflict.

He said he was seeking assurances from the warring factions to safeguard the delivery of humanitarian assistance hours after air strikes in Khartoum undermined a new ceasefire.

Mr Griffiths said the UN had a plan for delivering the aid and supplies needed to address the dire situation but noted that “we still require agreements and arrangements to allow for movement of staff and supplies”.

The aid chief added that he had been told by the World Food Programme that six of their lorries travelling to Darfur were looted en route despite assurances from authorities of safety and security.

Updated: May 03, 2023, 3:42 PM