People check the rubble of their destroyed home after strikes at Allamat district in Khartoum, Sudan, June 1, 2023. (PHOTO / AP)
NEW YORK/KHARTOUM/CAIRO – The UN Security Council on Friday called on warring factions in Sudan to cease hostilities, as fighting continued in the capital Khartoum after the collapse of talks to maintain a ceasefire and ease a humanitarian crisis.
A press statement agreed by the 15-member body in New York expressed "deep concern" over the clashes and condemned all attacks on civilians, UN personnel and humanitarian agencies.
"The members of the Security Council strongly condemned all attacks on the civilian population, United Nations and associated personnel and humanitarian actors, as well as civilian objects, medical personnel and facilities, and the looting of humanitarian supplies," reads the statement.
The council members called upon all parties “to ensure rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access throughout Sudan, in accordance with relevant provisions of international law and in line with UN guiding principles of humanitarian assistance, including humanity, impartiality, neutrality and independence”.
They underlined the need for strengthened international coordination and continued collaboration. They reaffirmed their firm support to African leadership and noted the African Union Roadmap for the Resolution of the Conflict in Sudan.
Seven weeks of warfare between the army and RSF have smashed up parts of central Khartoum, threatening to destabilize the wider region
The roadmap outlined six elements that include the establishment of a coordination mechanism to ensure all efforts by the regional and global actors are harmonized and impactful; an immediate, permanent, inclusive and comprehensive cessation of hostilities; and an effective humanitarian response.
The council members also welcomed the May 11 signature in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, by the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and Rapid Support Forces (RSF) of the Declaration of Commitment to Protect the Civilians of Sudan (Jeddah Declaration) "in recognition of SAF and RSF responsibilities and commitments under international humanitarian law and international human rights law".
They called on the signatories to fulfill their responsibilities and commitments. The council members further welcomed the May 20 signature of a seven-day ceasefire, and emphasized the importance of the signatories of the Jeddah Declaration implementing these commitments in full.
Sudan's warring parties fought in the capital on Friday after the collapse of talks to maintain a ceasefire and ease a humanitarian crisis.
Residents of Khartoum and Omdurman across the Nile said the army had resumed air strikes and was using more artillery. But said there was no sign the paramilitary RSF was retreating from streets and homes it had occupied, they said.
Seven weeks of warfare between the army and RSF have smashed up parts of central Khartoum, threatened to destabilize the wider region, displaced 1.2 million people inside Sudan and sent 400,000 others into neighboring states.
In this May 11, 2023 photo, deminers from the Mines Advisory Group do clearance at a site containing cluster munitions in Ayii, Eastern Equatoria state, in South Sudan. (PHOTO / AP)
UNITAMS mandate extended
The Security Council on Friday also decided to extend the mandate of the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan until Dec 3 of this year.
Unanimously adopting Resolution 2685, the 15-member organ also requested the secretary-general to continue to report the implementation of the mandate every 90 days to the council and decided to remain actively seized of the matter.
The council members said the mission's presence is more important than ever to coordinate UN responses to the complex challenges facing Sudan.
Headquartered in Khartoum, UNITAMS was established on June 3, 2020, for an initial period of 12 months and extended twice, with an aim to support Sudan through a range of political, peacebuilding and development initiatives.
Egypt-Qatar relief initiative
Also the same day, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi and Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani agreed to launch a joint initiative to support and provide relief to people in Sudan.
During a phone conversation, both leaders stressed that the initiative aims to provide humanitarian and relief services to Sudanese people, especially refugees, the Egyptian presidency said in a statement.
They also stressed the importance of intensive work to contain the humanitarian situation in Sudan, facilitating the flow of relief aid, and sparing civilians the repercussions of the fighting, according to the statement.