UN Calls for Immediate Cease-fire in Sudan and Path to Renewed Democratic Transition Talks

Sudanese army soldiers rest next to a building in Khartoum on May 25, 2023. (Photo by AFP)
Sudanese army soldiers rest next to a building in Khartoum on May 25, 2023. (Photo by AFP)
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UN Calls for Immediate Cease-fire in Sudan and Path to Renewed Democratic Transition Talks

Sudanese army soldiers rest next to a building in Khartoum on May 25, 2023. (Photo by AFP)
Sudanese army soldiers rest next to a building in Khartoum on May 25, 2023. (Photo by AFP)

The UN Security Council called Friday for an immediate cease-fire in Sudan to be followed by a permanent halt to hostilities and fresh efforts to reach a lasting democratic political settlement in the conflict-wracked country.

The UN’s most powerful body strongly condemned all attacks on civilians since fighting between rival generals vying for power broke out in mid-April and called for “rapid, safe and unhindered access throughout Sudan” to help millions in need.

The fighting has killed at least 866 civilians and wounded thousands more, according to the Sudanese Doctors’ Syndicate which tracks civilian casualties. And more than 1.3 million people have fled their homes to try to escape the violence, with over a million still in the country and 320,000 in neighboring Egypt, South Sudan, Chad, Ethiopia, and the Central African Republic, according to the UN’s International Organization for Migration.

The press statement from the council was issued before the council voted unanimously to extend the UN political mission in Sudan for six months, instead of a year, to give members time to see what happens on the ground and consider its future.

United Arab Emirates Ambassador Lana Nusseibeh, the current council president, called it “very positive” that all members not only voted to extend the UN mission but united behind a “very substantive” statement “that lays out the council’s expectations of what should happen next in Sudan -- and that is clearly an immediate and permanent cease-fire arrangement.”

The Security Council underlined the need “for strengthened international coordination and continued collaboration” and reaffirmed “their firm support for African leadership,” noting the African Union’s six-point roadmap to resolve the conflict as well as efforts by the Arab League and the regional group IGAD.

Gabon’s UN Ambassador Michel Biang told the council after the vote that the security situation in Sudan continues to worsen.

“The country is at a critical stage of its history with a heightened risk of civil war if the conflict continues,” he warned, speaking on behalf of the two other African members on the council, Ghana and Mozambique, as well. “And there is, if that occurs, a grave risk of serious consequences being visited upon all countries in the region.”

Biang stressed that the presence of the UN mission “is now more important than ever before to coordinate the UN’s response to the complex challenges plaguing the country.”

On Wednesday, UN Secretary-General António Guterres asked to brief the council behind closed doors for only the fifth time since he took office in January 2017 about the impact of the ongoing conflict on the UN mission known as UNITAMS. It was established by the council on June 3, 2020, to provide support to Sudan during its political transition to democratic rule.

In a brief statement to reporters after the meeting, the UN chief said he told the 15 council members it’s up to them to decide whether to continue the political mission to Sudan or whether “it’s time to end it.”

Following the ouster of Sudanese strongman Omar al-Bashir in 2019, Sudan embarked on a shaky democratic transition led by civilian and army leaders. But the generals seized complete power in a coup in October 2021, before turning against each other.

Sudanese leader Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan and Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, who heads the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, agreed to restore the transition but clashed over the terms of the RSF’s merger into the army, a disagreement that exploded into open conflict on April 15.

A week ago, Burhan demanded in a letter to Guterres that the UN special envoy to Sudan, Volker Perthes, be removed, saying his approach in pre-war talks between the generals helped inflame the conflict and accusing him of “being partisan.” The UN chief was “shocked” by the letter.

After Wednesday’s meeting, Guterres said he reaffirmed to the council “my full confidence in Volker Perthes.”



Israel Pounds Central Gaza Camps, Deepens Invasion of Rafah

A view of a damaged building, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, at the Rafah Crossing, Gaza, in this screengrab obtained from a social media video released on June 19, 2024. Doron Kadosh, Glz/via REUTERS
A view of a damaged building, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, at the Rafah Crossing, Gaza, in this screengrab obtained from a social media video released on June 19, 2024. Doron Kadosh, Glz/via REUTERS
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Israel Pounds Central Gaza Camps, Deepens Invasion of Rafah

A view of a damaged building, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, at the Rafah Crossing, Gaza, in this screengrab obtained from a social media video released on June 19, 2024. Doron Kadosh, Glz/via REUTERS
A view of a damaged building, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, at the Rafah Crossing, Gaza, in this screengrab obtained from a social media video released on June 19, 2024. Doron Kadosh, Glz/via REUTERS

Israeli forces pounded areas in the central Gaza Strip overnight, killing three people and wounding dozens of others, according to medics, while tanks deepened their invasion into Rafah in the south, residents said.
Israeli planes struck a house in Al-Nuseirat camp, killing two people and wounding 12 others, while tanks shelled areas in Al-Maghazi and Al-Bureij camps, wounding many other people, health officials said, according to Reuters. Nuseirat, Maghazi, and Bureij are three of Gaza's eight historic refugee camps.
In Deir al-Balah, a city packed with displaced people in the central Gaza Strip, an Israeli airstrike killed one Palestinian and wounded several others on Thursday, medics said.
The Israeli military said on Wednesday forces were continuing their operations across the enclave targeting militants and military infrastructure in what it described as "precise, intelligence-based" activities.
More than eight months into the war in Gaza, Israel's advance is now focused on the two last areas its forces had yet to storm: Rafah on Gaza's southern edge and the area surrounding Deir al-Balah in the center. The operations have forced more than a million people to flee since May, the vast majority already displaced from other parts of the enclave.
In Rafah, near the border with Egypt, Israeli tanks stationed deep in the western and central areas of the city stepped up bombardment, forcing more families living in the far coastal areas to flee northward. Some residents said the pace of the raid has been accelerated in the past two days.
"The tanks took control of most of the areas in Rafah. People living by the beach have also started to leave toward Khan Younis and central areas in fear because of the continued bombardment," said Abu Wasim, a resident from Rafah's Al-Shaboura neighborhood, who quit his home over a week ago before tanks rolled in reaching the heart of the city.
Rafah housed over half of Gaza's 2.3 million people until May 7 when Israeli forces began the ground offensive into the city. Fewer than 100,000 are now believed to be left behind.
There has been no sign of let-up in the fighting as efforts by international mediators, backed by the United States, have failed to persuade Israel and Hamas to agree to a ceasefire.
The armed wings of Hamas and Islamic Jihad said fighters battled Israeli forces with anti-tank rockets and mortar bombs, and have in some areas detonated pre-planted explosive devices against army units.
On Thursday, Israeli authorities freed 33 Palestinians who had been detained during the past months by Israeli forces in different areas of the enclave. The freed detainees were admitted into Al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir Al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip after they complained of torture and mistreatment by Israeli jailers.