Remarks by António Guterres, UN Secretary-General, to the Security Council – on Sudan

Must read

07 March 2024

Mr. President,


Next month will mark one year since the outbreak of brutal fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces.

The conflict has taken a devastating toll on the people of Sudan, imperilling the unity of the country.

There is now a serious risk that the conflict could ignite regional instability of dramatic proportions, from the Sahel to the Horn of Africa and the Red Sea.

Meanwhile, the fighting rages on.  We are witnessing renewed offensives in Khartoum State, Al-Gazira State and elsewhere.

The bloodshed has recently forced us to suspend operations out of a critical humanitarian hub in Wad Madani – and there are growing fears of a further expansion of hostilities east.

At the same time, we are deeply alarmed by calls for arming civilians, and popular mobilization activities in various states.

Armed groups are entering the fray – in Darfur and South Kordofan.

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.

It is time to silence the guns and raise the volume for peace.

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 honour the values of Ramadan by honouring a Ramadan cessation of hostilities.

This cessation of hostilities must lead to a definitive silencing of the guns across the country, and set out a firm path towards lasting peace for the Sudanese people.

The values of Ramadan must prevail.

Mr. President,

Now is the time to lay down the weapons.

The humanitarian crisis in Sudan is reaching colossal proportions.

Fully half the population – some 25 million people – need life-saving assistance.

Over 14,000 people have been killed, although that number is likely far higher.

Sudan is now home to the world’s largest internal displacement crisis, with 6.3 million people seeking safety within the country since the beginning of the conflict.

Another 1.7 million people have fled to neighbouring countries.

The conflict has destroyed civilian infrastructure and brought basic services to a standstill.

More than 70 per cent of health facilities in conflict-affected areas are not functional.

Millions of children are out of school.

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.

We are already receiving reports of children dying from malnutrition.

The United Nations and our humanitarian partners are doing everything we can to stem this suffering.

But we are facing major challenges as we try to reach millions of people in need.

We welcome recent decisions by the Sudanese authorities to facilitate cross-line access from eastern Sudan and the use of three airports for humanitarian flights as well as allowing the use of cross-border points into areas controlled by Sudanese authorities – including one border point from Chad, which we urge be sustained beyond the movement of preposition supplies.

It is also critical to address the chronic food insecurity crisis in parts of Darfur and other hard-to-reach areas.

Countless lives are at stake and time is of the essence.

In accordance with the Jeddah Declaration, authorities must allow full and immediate humanitarian access to all vulnerable populations regardless of where they are and who controls the area; all routes must be utilized – including both road and air corridors – to maximize the aid response and save lives; and all routes must remain open to allow a steady and sustainable flow of assistance and not be subject to burdensome and unreasonable restrictions or impediments.

We encourage the Sudanese authorities to ensure the swift implementation of these measures, and to continue efforts to facilitate humanitarian access, including across conflict lines.

Recent procedures to expedite visas for humanitarian staff are another step in the right direction.

I also urge the international community to provide financial support to the 2024 Sudan Humanitarian Response Plan, which remains significantly underfunded.

Mr. President,

The human rights situation continues to spiral out of control throughout Sudan.

Protection concerns are growing by the hour.

Indiscriminate attacks by the RSF and the SAF have killed or injured a significant number of civilians.

And we see continuing and widespread looting, arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances, torture, recruitment and detention of children, alongside the shrinking of civic space.

We are also receiving troubling reports of systematic conflict-related sexual violence, including rape and gang rape, as well as abduction and trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation.

I call on the parties to uphold their obligations under international humanitarian law, to protect civilians, and to facilitate safe and unimpeded humanitarian access, as they have committed to do.

Mr. President,

We welcome regional and international efforts to resolve the conflict – including through the efforts of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development.

The Jeddah platform constitutes a critical and promising forum for dialogue – and African participation remains indispensable.

I recognize African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki who has appointed a High-Level Panel to lead African Union efforts to support the solution of the conflict in Sudan.

We must continue working to empower civilians – including women’s rights groups, youth and others mobilizing for peace – who are all critical to an inclusive political process enabling the resumption of Sudan’s democratic transition.

The United Nations stands ready to intensify the engagement with our multilateral partners – including the African Union, IGAD, the League of Arab States, and key Member States – to take urgent action towards a durable cessation of hostilities and an inclusive, coherent, complementary and effective international mediation. These efforts must draw in regional states with tangible leverage on the warring parties to end the fighting.

My Personal Envoy, Ramtane Lamamra, has met with the leaders of the RSF and SAF, criss-crossed the Horn of Africa and the Gulf, and visited numerous capitals for discussions on the way forward.

I count on him to continue leading United Nations political efforts and to promote the coordination of international mediation initiatives.

I call upon this Council to signal its strong and clear support for that critical effort.

Mr. President,

Following the drawdown of UNITAMS last week, the technical liquidation period has commenced.

I am deeply grateful to the staff of the Mission – national and international – for their dedication and distinguished service under very trying circumstances.

I also thank all partners who contributed to the implementation of the UNITAMS mandate.

Although that Mission has drawn down, our collective work for peace must ramp up.

A Ramadan cessation of hostilities can help stem the suffering and usher the way to sustainable peace.

Let us spare no effort to support the people of Sudan in their legitimate aspirations for a peaceful and secure future.

Thank you.

More articles

Latest article