Draft UN resolution calls for ceasefire in war-torn Sudan ahead of Ramadan

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Britain has circulated a draft UN resolution calling for an immediate cessation of hostilities in conflict-wracked Sudan ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins soon.

The draft, obtained late Wednesday by The Associated Press, expresses “grave concern over the spreading violence and the catastrophic and deteriorating humanitarian situation, including crisis levels of acute food insecurity, particularly in Darfur.”

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With Ramadan expected to begin around Sunday, depending on the sighting of the new moon, the council is expected to vote quickly on the resolution, likely on Friday.

Sudan plunged into chaos last April, when long-simmering tensions between its military led by Gen. Abdel Fattah Burhan and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces commanded by Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo broke out into street battles in the capital, Khartoum.

Fighting spread to other parts of the country, especially urban areas, but in Sudan’s western Darfur region it took on a different form, with brutal attacks by the Arab-dominated Rapid Support Forces on ethnic African civilians. Thousands of people have been killed.

Two decades ago, Darfur became synonymous with genocide and war crimes, particularly by the notorious Janjaweed Arab militias against populations that identify as Central or East African.

The International Criminal Court’s prosecutor, Karim Khan, said in late January there are grounds to believe both sides in the current conflict are committing possible war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide in Darfur.

Meanwhile, France’s UN ambassador, Nicolas de Riviere, said, “It would be a disgrace if we have a Ramadan truce in Sudan and no Ramadan truce in Gaza.”

“We need both,” he said.

The United States vetoed a resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza on February 20 that was supported by almost the entire 15-member Security Council.

The US is negotiating on its own proposed Gaza resolution, with the latest draft calling for a ceasefire “of roughly six weeks in Gaza together with the release of all hostages” as soon as Israel and Hamas agree. The draft makes no mention of Ramadan.

The latest draft on a Sudan ceasefire was circulated on the same day the head of the UN food agency warned that the Sudan conflict “risks triggering the world’s largest hunger crisis” as global attention is focused on the Israel-Hamas war.

Cindy McCain, head of the World Food Program, said the conflict in Sudan has shattered the lives of millions and called for the warring parties to stop fighting and allow humanitarian agencies to provide life-saving assistance.

According to that UN agency, 18 million people across Sudan are facing acute hunger, with the most desperate trapped behind the front lines. They include 5 million who face starvation, it said.

The proposed UN resolution calls 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 draft also urges strengthened coordination of several regional and international efforts “to facilitate an end to the conflict and to restore a lasting inclusive civilian-led democratic transition.”

UN experts said in a report obtained by AP on March 1 that fighters for the Rapid Support Forces and their allied militias carried out widespread ethnic killings and rapes while taking control of much of Darfur that may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The report to the Security Council painted a horrifying picture of the brutality of the Arab-dominated RSF against Africans in Darfur.

It also detailed how the force succeeded in gaining control of four out of Darfur’s five states, including through complex financial networks that involve dozens of companies.

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