Proposed UN resolution calls for ceasefire in conflict-torn Sudan during upcoming Muslim holy month

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

The draft, obtained late Wednesday by The Associated Press, expresses “serious concerns about the spreading violence and the catastrophic and deteriorating humanitarian situation, including crisis levels of acute food insecurity, especially in Darfur.”

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

Sudan plunged into chaos last April when long-simmering tensions between the army led by General Abdel Fattah Burhan and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces led by Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo erupted into street fighting in the capital Khartoum.

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

Twenty years ago, Darfur became synonymous with genocide and war crimes, especially by the infamous Arab Janjaweed militias against populations who identify as Central or East African.

International Criminal Court Prosecutor Karim Khan said in late January that there are reasons to believe that 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 shame if we have a Ramadan truce in Sudan and no Ramadan truce in Gaza.”

“We need both,” he said.

The United States on February 20 vetoed a resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, which was backed by nearly the entire 15-member Security Council.

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

The latest draft ceasefire in Sudan was circulated on the same day the head of the UN Food Agency warned that the conflict in Sudan “risks creating the world’s worst hunger crisis” as global attention turns focuses on the war between Israel and Hamas.

Cindy McCain, head of the World Food Program, said the conflict in Sudan has devastated the lives of millions of people and called on the warring sides to stop fighting and allow humanitarian organizations to provide life-saving aid.

According to that UN agency, 18 million people across Sudan are facing acute hunger, with the most desperate trapped behind the front lines. Among them, 5 million people are facing famine, the report said.

The proposed UN resolution calls on all parties to remove obstacles and enable “full, rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access,” including across Sudan’s borders and across conflict lines.

The draft also calls for strengthened coordination of various regional and international efforts “to facilitate an end to the conflict and restore a sustainable, inclusive, citizen-led democratic transition.”

UN experts said in a report obtained by AP on March 1 that fighters from the Rapid Support Forces and their allied militias committed widespread ethnic killings and rapes as they took control of much of Darfur, which could amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The report to the Security Council painted a horrific picture of the brutality of the Arab-dominated RSF against Africans in Darfur. It also detailed how the force managed to gain control of four of Darfur’s five states, including through complex financial networks involving dozens of companies.