UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calls for an end to the conflict in Sudan

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for an end to the conflict in Sudan, saying the country could not afford such destruction at a desperate time.

“A country like Sudan, which has suffered so much, that is in such a desperate economic and humanitarian situation, cannot afford a struggle for power between two people,” Guterres told reporters in Nairobi.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Wednesday it was “absolutely essential” that the crisis in Sudan not spread beyond its borders and threaten democratic transitions and peace processes in neighbouring countries.

Sudan has been rocked by violence since April 15 between the country’s de facto leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who commands the regular army, and his deputy-turned-rival Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, who commands the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

Both men have agreed to multiple truces but all have failed to stop the fighting that has driven tens of thousands over Sudan’s borders and raised fears of a humanitarian crisis engulfing the wider region.

The foreign ministry in South Sudan announced on Tuesday that the warring parties had agreed “in principle” to a seven-day ceasefire between May 4 and 11 but neither side has formally confirmed that.

“The present situation is totally unacceptable. A lasting ceasefire needs to take place,” Guterres told reporters in Nairobi.

He was “very concerned” about the conflict spilling into neighbouring countries undergoing their own political and post-conflict troubles, particularly Chad, Ethiopia and South Sudan.

“It is absolutely essential to massively support Chad in the present situation. On the other hand, we have other countries in the region in their own peace processes. Ethiopia is in a peace process. It is absolutely essential to avoid any spillover from Sudan to Ethiopia,” he said.

“South Sudan is in a slow and difficult process to implement the agreements that were made. Any disturbance in relation to South Sudan would be extremely dangerous.”

More than 100,000 people had fled as refugees into neighbouring countries since the conflict began and the refugee agency UNHCR was making plans for as many as 800,000 more, he said, underscoring the impact of the conflict on the wider region.

He said the UN was “taken by surprise” when Sudan exploded into violence because it was hoped that negotiations underway between the two generals would bear fruit.

“We were not expecting this to happen,” he said.

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