Guterres calls on Sudanese Army and RSF for ‘safe’ and ‘immediate’ access to humanitarian aid

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres – NIKKU / XINHUA NEWS / CONTACTOPHOTO

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on Wednesday called on the Sudanese Army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) to facilitate »safe» and »immediate» access to humanitarian aid in the country.

»We need safe and immediate access so that we can distribute (humanitarian aid) to the people who need it most. Civilians and civilian infrastructure must be protected,» Guterres said Wednesday at a press conference in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital.

Guterres reiterated that the country is facing a »humanitarian catastrophe» in the context of the conflict, so »the parties must put the interests of the Sudanese people first. This also implies peace and the return to a civilian government», he added.

The UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, Martin Griffiths, and the UN Special Representative for Sudan, Volker Perthes, met on Wednesday with the head of the army and president of the Sovereign Transitional Council, Abdelfatá al Burhan, and his ‘number two’ in the organization and leader of the RSF, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo.

»We emphasized that humanitarian aid must reach the people. But we need solid guarantees about the safety of aid workers and supplies,» Griffiths said on his official Twitter profile.

Guterres, announced on April 30 that Griffiths would travel to the region »in the face of the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian crisis.» Despite the fact that Al Burhan and ‘Hemedti’ gave on Sunday »in principle» their approval to establish a truce between May 4 and 11, as announced by South Sudan, the fighting between the parties continues.

Hostilities broke out on April 15 amid rising tensions over the integration of the RSF – led by ‘Hemedti’, who is also vice-president of the Sovereign Transitional Council – into the Armed Forces, a key part of an agreement signed in December to form a new civilian government and revive the transition.