UN chief calls for ceasefire in war-torn Sudan during Ramadan

Security Council could vote on Friday on UK-drafted resolution calling on all parties to allow 'full, rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access' to the country

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said it was 'time to silence the guns and raise the volume for peace'. EPA
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UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has called for a ceasefire in war-torn Sudan during the holy month of Ramadan, warning that the country's humanitarian crisis is reaching "colossal proportions".

“It is time to silence the guns and raise the volume for peace. In just days, the holy month of Ramadan will commence,” Mr Guterres told the 15-member UN Security Council on Thursday.

The UN chief’s appeal comes a day after Cindy McCain, the head of the World Food Programme, warned that the Sudan conflict “risks triggering the world’s largest hunger crisis".

According to the UN agency, 18 million people across Sudan are facing acute hunger, with the most desperate trapped behind the front lines.

They include five million who face starvation, it said.

"The humanitarian crisis in Sudan is reaching colossal proportions," Mr Guterres said. "Some 25 million people, half the population, need life-saving assistance."

Supporting the Secretary General’s call for a ceasefire, Britain circulated a draft resolution – seen by The National – calling on all parties to remove obstructions and allow “full, rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access” including across Sudan’s borders and across conflict lines.

The UK's deputy ambassador James Kariuki told reporters before the council meeting that the Sudanese armed forces and the Rapid Support Forces are responsible for a “horrendous situation".

“We're still seeing shelling and attacks on both sides in heavily populated urban areas. So that's why we've brought forward a resolution Security Council resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire before the holy month of Ramadan and urging all parties to allow for unhindered cross-border and cross-line humanitarian access,” he told reporters.

He said he hoped the council would vote on the resolution on Friday.

The draft also urges all member states to refrain from “external interference which seeks to foment conflict and instability and instead to support efforts for a durable peace".

Mr Guterres warned that the human rights situation is spiralling out of control throughout the country.

Ramadan is expected to begin on March 11 or 12 this year.

Updated: March 07, 2024, 5:50 PM