middle east

UN chief welcomes staff evacuation, warns Sudan conflict could ‘engulf whole region’

The UN secretary-general on Monday welcomed the safe temporary relocation of hundreds of UN staff and their dependents from Khartoum and other locations in Sudan.

In a statement, Farhan Haq, deputy spokesperson for Antonio Guterres, said the UN chief appreciated the cooperation by all sides in Sudan to allow for the operation to be carried out without incident.

He reiterated the UN’s continued resolve “to stand with and work for the Sudanese people, in full support of their wishes for a peaceful, secure future and a return to the democratic transition.”

He also renewed his call for all parties to immediately cease hostilities and allow civilians to leave areas hit by fighting, adding that the violence between the warring factions “could engulf the whole region and beyond.”

Guterres told a meeting of the UN Security Council on multilateralism on Monday that the situation in Sudan “continues to worsen.”

More than 400 people have been killed and almost 4,000 wounded in 10 days of fighting between forces loyal to two rival generals, Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan and Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, who head up the army and the Rapid Support Forces, respectively.

“The violence must stop. It risks a catastrophic conflagration within Sudan that could engulf the whole region and beyond.

“(I am) in constant contact with the parties to the conflict and have called on them to de-escalate tensions and to return to the negotiating table,” Guterres added.

He pointed out that everything must be done to “pull Sudan back from the edge of the abyss.”

His comments came after the UN said its head of mission Volker Perthes would remain in Sudan despite a mass exodus of foreigners.

Guterres said: “Let me be clear: The United Nations is not leaving Sudan.” He noted that the organization was “reconfiguring our presence in Sudan to enable us to continue supporting the Sudanese people.”

He added: “Our commitment is to the Sudanese people, in support of their wishes for a peaceful and secure future. We stand with them at this terrible time.”

Britain has requested an emergency meeting of the Security Council — which a diplomatic source said was likely to take place on Tuesday — to discuss the deepening crisis in Sudan.

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