UN Security Council considering call for Ramadan truce in Sudan

FILE PHOTO: 2023 through the lens of Reuters photographers

By Michelle Nichols

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United Nations Security Council is considering calling for an immediate cessation of hostilities ahead of Ramadan in the nearly year-long war between the Sudanese army and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, diplomats said.

The 15-member council is negotiating a British-drafted resolution that diplomats said could be put to a vote on Friday. The Muslim fasting month of Ramadan begins early next week.

The draft resolution also "calls for all parties to ensure the removal of any obstructions and enable full, rapid, safe, and unhindered humanitarian access, including cross-border and crossline, and comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law," according to the text seen by Reuters.

The United States says the warring parties have committed war crimes and the RSF and allied militias have also committed crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing. The U.N. says nearly 25 million people - half Sudan's population - need aid, some 8 million have fled their homes and hunger is rising.

"The international community is not doing nearly enough to address this dire crisis," U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield told reporters on Wednesday.

Between 10,000 and 15,000 people were killed in one city alone in Sudan's West Darfur region last year in ethnic violence by the RSF and allied Arab militia, according to a U.N. sanctions monitors report, seen by Reuters in January.

Since war erupted on April 15, 2023, the council has only issued three press statements condemning the violence and expressing concern. It then echoed that language in a resolution in December that shut down a U.N. political mission - following a request from Sudan's acting foreign minister.

The U.N. sanctions monitors have also described as "credible" accusations that the United Arab Emirates had provided military support to the RSF. The UAE denies it has been involved in military support to any of Sudan's rival parties.

The draft U.N. Security Council resolution urges all countries "to refrain from external interference which seeks to foment conflict and instability and instead to support efforts for a durable peace."

A Security Council resolution needs at least nine votes in favor and no vetoes by the United States, Russia, Britain, China or France to be adopted.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Daniel Wallis)