Sudan's Rival Military Leaders Give Competing Addresses to UN

Abdel-Fattah Al-Burhan Abdelrahman Al-Burhan, President of the Transitional Sovereign Council of Sudan, addresses the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
Abdel-Fattah Al-Burhan Abdelrahman Al-Burhan, President of the Transitional Sovereign Council of Sudan, addresses the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
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Sudan's Rival Military Leaders Give Competing Addresses to UN

Abdel-Fattah Al-Burhan Abdelrahman Al-Burhan, President of the Transitional Sovereign Council of Sudan, addresses the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
Abdel-Fattah Al-Burhan Abdelrahman Al-Burhan, President of the Transitional Sovereign Council of Sudan, addresses the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

The heads of Sudan's rival military factions gave competing addresses to the United Nations on Thursday, one from the podium at UN headquarters in New York and the other in a rare video recording from an undisclosed location.
Army leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, speaking at the United Nations following a string of foreign trips, called on the international community to designate the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) as a terrorist organization and to counter its sponsors outside Sudan's borders, Reuters said.
RSF leader Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti, said in a video message that his forces were fully prepared for a ceasefire and comprehensive political talks to end the conflict.
Both sides blamed the other for starting the war that erupted in mid-April in Khartoum and has spread to other parts of the country including the western region of Darfur, displacing more than 5 million people and threatening to destabilize the region.
Most of Hemedti's recent communications have been audio messages, and his whereabouts have been a source of speculation.
In the video released on Thursday shortly before Burhan spoke, Hemedti appeared in military uniform, seated behind a desk with a Sudanese national flag behind him as he read out his speech. His location was not clear.
"Today we renew our commitment to the peaceful process to put a halt to this war," Hemedti said. "The RSF are fully prepared for a ceasefire throughout Sudan to allow the passage of humanitarian aid ... and to start serious and comprehensive political talks."
FAILED CEASEFIRES
Previous assertions by the army and the RSF that they are seeking a solution to the conflict, as well as announcements of ceasefires by both sides, have failed to stop bloodshed and the deepening of a humanitarian crisis in Sudan.
"We are still extending our hands for peace, to stop this war and the suffering of our people," said Burhan, adding that the army remained committed to withdrawing from politics in a transition to civilian rule.
But he also called for the RSF to be labeled a terrorist group and said it was backed by regional and international backers, without naming any. "There is a need to firmly address their sponsors," he said.
Sudan's war broke out over plans to formally integrate the RSF into the army as part of a political transition, four years after the overthrow of former leader Omar al-Bashir during a popular uprising. The army and RSF staged a coup together in 2021 before coming to blows.
Witnesses say the army has used heavy artillery and air strikes that have caused casualties in residential districts of Khartoum and other cities, and that the RSF has inflicted widespread looting and sexual violence on residents as well as participating in ethnically targeted attacks in Darfur.
Saudi Arabia and the United States have tried to secure a lasting ceasefire in Sudan but the process stalled amid parallel international initiatives in Africa and the Middle East.



UN Human Rights Chief: Unconscionable Death and Suffering Happening in Gaza

A child looks on as Palestinians search for missing people under the rubble of a destroyed house following an Israeli air strike, at al-Nuseirat refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 18 June 2024. (EPA)
A child looks on as Palestinians search for missing people under the rubble of a destroyed house following an Israeli air strike, at al-Nuseirat refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 18 June 2024. (EPA)
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UN Human Rights Chief: Unconscionable Death and Suffering Happening in Gaza

A child looks on as Palestinians search for missing people under the rubble of a destroyed house following an Israeli air strike, at al-Nuseirat refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 18 June 2024. (EPA)
A child looks on as Palestinians search for missing people under the rubble of a destroyed house following an Israeli air strike, at al-Nuseirat refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 18 June 2024. (EPA)

Palestinians in the Israeli occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem are suffering a drastically worsening human rights environment, alongside "unconscionable death and suffering" in the Gaza Strip, the UN human rights chief said on Tuesday.

"The situation in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is dramatically deteriorating," Volker Turk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, told the opening session of the UN Human Rights Council.

The West Bank, where the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority exercises limited self-rule under Israeli occupation, has seen the worst unrest for decades, in parallel with the war in the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by Hamas.

Turk said that from the start of the Gaza war in October through mid-June, 528 Palestinians, 133 of them children, had been killed by Israeli security forces or settlers in the West Bank, in some cases raising "serious concerns of unlawful killings".

Twenty-three Israelis have been killed in the West Bank and Israel in clashes with or attacks by Palestinians, he said.

In Gaza, Turk said he was "appalled by the disregard for international human rights and humanitarian law" by parties to the war.

"Israel's relentless strikes in Gaza are causing immense suffering and widespread destruction, and the arbitrary denial and obstruction of humanitarian aid have continued," Turk said.

"Israel continues to detain arbitrarily thousands of Palestinians. This must not continue."

He added that Palestinian armed groups were continuing to hold hostages, including in populated areas, which put both the hostages and civilians at risk.

Israel's permanent mission to the UN in Geneva accused Turk of "completely omitting the cruelty and barbarity of terrorism" in his address to the UN Human Rights Council.

"Hostilities in Gaza are the direct result of Hamas terrorism, decades of rocket-fire and incitement against the Jewish people and the State of Israel, culminating in its brutal attacks against Israel on October 7," the diplomatic mission said in a statement.

Israel's ground and air campaign was triggered when Hamas-led fighters stormed into southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing around 1,200 people and seizing more than 250 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.

Israel's offensive has killed more than 37,400 people in Gaza, according to its health authorities, and left much of the enclave's population homeless.