ASSISTANT SECRETARY-GENERAL MARTHA AMA A. POBEE’S
REMARKS TO THE SECURITY COUNCIL ON
New York, 9 AUGUST 2023
Members of the Security Council,
Thank you for this opportunity to brief you on the situation in Sudan.
More than one hundred days have passed since the eruption of fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces.
Clashes between these parties continue in various parts of the country, particularly Khartoum, Bahri, Omdurman and Darfur, with neither side achieving victory nor making any significant gains. Khartoum State remains an epicenter of the conflict, with major combat concentrated around key SAF installations including the Sudanese Armed Forces General Command Headquarters. Fighting is continuing in neighborhoods. This week, the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces both ordered residents to leave their homes in a part of Omdurman, declaring it “an area of operations”.
The parties have exacted tremendous suffering on the people of the Darfur region. The fighting in Darfur continues to reopen the old wounds of ethnic tension of past conflicts in the region. The brutal violence experienced in El Geneina and Sirba are particular examples of this situation. This is deeply worrying and could quickly engulf the country in a prolonged ethnic conflict with regional spill overs. The initiative by Chad to convene a grouping of Darfurian stakeholders to address the situation in the region is therefore welcome and should be built upon while ensuring the participation of broad range of stakeholders including armed groups, tribal leaders, civil society, and women’s groups.
The situation in the two Kordofan and the Blue Nile States of Sudan continues to be fragile, with persistent military actions and frequent road closures. In North Kordofan, SAF controls El Obeid city while RSF is controlling areas around the city.
Since June, the SPLM-North Al Hilu faction has continued to make military advancements in SAF-controlled areas in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, in which SPLM-N claims is an attempt to take back territory previously taken from them.
While the East is relatively calm, there are indications of active mobilization efforts in support of SAF, with the emergence of mobilization committees and establishment of military training camps. The mobilization is particularly worrisome and risk plunging the East into conflict along ethnic lines, further highlighting the fragility of the region.
The Northern part of the country remains under Sudanese Armed Forces control.
The conflict in Sudan continues to have immense repercussions on the country and its people who continue to face unimaginable suffering. The humanitarian and protection needs are rising by the day with no signs of a reprieve. My humanitarian colleague Ms. Edem Wosornu will brief you in detail on the mounting humanitarian needs and response efforts.
The indiscriminate and sometimes targeted attacks on civilians and civilian objects and infrastructure continue, particularly in Khartoum, Darfur, and North Kordofan, as the parties continue to disregard calls to protect civilians and uphold their international human rights and humanitarian law obligations.
Sexual violence continues to be perpetrated on a large scale, while children continue to be killed or victimized or are at risk of being recruited to fight.
The systematic abductions and killings of human rights defenders in Darfur and Khartoum are on the rise. The parties to the conflict must take concrete actions to end and investigate these violations, and support must be provided to strengthen human rights defenders’ networks and better protect human rights defenders.
UNITAMS and the wider UN has on several occasions denounced specific egregious violations such as ethnically-motivated attacks in West Darfur, systematic looting and rape, or aerial bombardments, and has named those responsible.
Hostilities in the country must come to an end and perpetrators should be held accountable for crimes committed, including sexual violence.
We welcome the ongoing efforts by the African Union and IGAD to end the conflict in Sudan. UNITAMS remains committed to support these efforts including through the AU-led Expanded Mechanism and its Core Group – which the UN is a part of. We also welcome the continued efforts of the US and Saudi Arabia to facilitate negotiations between the conflicting parties in Jeddah, as well as the initiative of Sudan's neighboring countries to help resolve the conflict. The common thread among these initiatives is the call for a permanent cessation of hostilities, facilitation of humanitarian access, and engagement with civilian stakeholders in an inclusive political process.
Coordination between the existing regional and international mechanisms and fora remains essential to maximize the collective leverage of regional and international actors and enhance the effectiveness of mediation efforts. The United Nations is supporting a joined-up approach towards facilitating a comprehensive solution and will continue to work closely with our partners – particularly the African Union and IGAD in this regard, in coordination with others.
We must also highlight that a broad range of civilians remain committed to ending the war and a resumption of a transition leading to a democratic state. Civilians, tribal leaders and others are coming under increasing pressure to take sides in the war, and we continue to urge against this. Such pressure will only lead to a civil war with ethnic and regional repercussions for decades to come. In fact, UNITAMS is supporting efforts by local leaders to prevent or de-escalate conflicts particularly in Darfur.
UNITAMS also welcomes the ongoing efforts by civilian leaders to consolidate various civilian initiatives under one umbrella to unify anti-war forces in one broad front and prepare for an inclusive political process. It is important to include civil society, women’s rights groups, youth, trade professions, and resistance committees whose voices and engagement are particularly significant in any efforts to end the conflict in Sudan. UNITAMS continues its outreach with these initiatives and encouraging broad-based inclusivity.
Let me also highlight the important role Sudanese women are playing by leading several anti-war initiatives that call for the immediate cessation of violence, accountability for human rights violations including sexual violence, and for women’s participation in ceasefire negotiations and any future political process. Their voice must be heard.
Let me close by reiterating that there needs to be a negotiated solution to end this war as soon as possible. There is no other alternative. Calls by some to continue the war in order to achieve a military victory will only contribute to destroying the country. The longer this war continues, the greater the risk of fragmentation, and foreign interference and erosion of sovereignty, and the loss of Sudan’s future, particularly its youth. Now is the time to end this senseless war and return to negotiations. UNITAMS, along with its partners, will continue to engage with both sides towards this goal and we count on the united support of this Council.
Thank you, Madame President.