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UN chief calls for Ramadan ceasefire in Sudan

 

"In just days, the holy month of Ramadan will commence. So from this chamber today, I am making an appeal. I call on all parties in Sudan to honor the values of Ramadan by honoring a Ramadan cessation of hostilities," he told a Security Council meeting.

Deputy British Ambassador James Kariuki announced a draft 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 said he hoped for a vote on Friday.

Sudan has been rocked by a brutal war that has killed thousands -- including up to 15,000 in a single Darfur town, according to UN experts -- and displaced millions since last April.

The war between army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his former deputy, Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, who commands the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, has also destroyed infrastructure and crippled Sudan's economy.

It has also uprooted more than eight million people, in addition to two million who had already been forced from their homes before the conflict -- making it the world's largest displacement crisis.

The UN's World Food Programme had warned on Wednesday that the nearly 11-month war risks triggering the world's largest hunger crisis.

"The humanitarian crisis in Sudan is reaching colossal proportions," Guterres told the Council on Thursday.

Some 25 million people, half the population, need life-saving assistance, he said.

"Water and sanitation systems are breaking down. Diseases are multiplying. Hunger is stalking Sudan. Some 18 million people are acutely food insecure. This is the highest number ever recorded during a harvest season, yet numbers are expected to surge even higher in the coming months," he continued.

"We are already receiving reports of children dying from malnutrition."

He repeated fears about civilians mobilizing, and new armed groups entering the fray, and cited reports of systemic sexual violence including rape, gang rape, and human trafficking.

"All these dangerous developments are pouring fuel on the fire for an even more serious fragmentation of the country, a deepening of intra- and inter-communal tensions, and more ethnic violence," he said.