Guterres told a U.N. press conference that it’s time for the warring rivals — Sudan’s military, Gen. Abdel Fattah Burhan, and the commander of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo — to start talking about ending the conflict, which has killed at least 12,000 people and sent over 7 million fleeing their homes.
The U.N. is working with the regional group IGAD, the African Union and the Arab League, and Guterres expressed hope he will meet with them at the upcoming AU summit on Feb. 17-18 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, “to see how we can converge our efforts to bring these two generals to the table” and achieve a ceasefire and create conditions to get humanitarian aid into Sudan for people in “desperate condition.”
U.N. humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths told a news conference in Geneva on Wednesday that the rival generals assured him very recently they would attend a meeting in Switzerland to discuss humanitarian issues and Sudan's beleaguered civilians. "I'm still waiting to see when that happens," Griffiths said.
Sudan plunged into chaos last April with street battles between the generals’ rival forces in the capital, Khartoum, that spread to other areas. Western Darfur, which was wracked by bloodshed and atrocities in 2003, has been an epicenter of the current conflict, an arena of ethnic violence where paramilitary troops and allied Arab militias have been attacking African ethnic groups.
In 2005, the Security Council referred the situation in Darfur to the International Criminal Court, which is charged under the Rome Statute that established the tribunal with investigating and prosecuting the world's worst atrocities — war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide — and the crime of aggression.
ICC prosecutor Karim Khan told the council in late January it was "quite stunning" in visiting different refugee camps in Chad, which borders Darfur, that people who lived through the Darfur conflict from 2003 told him spontaneously that what is happening today "is the worst ever."
"Based on the work of my office, it's my clear finding, my clear assessment, that there are grounds to believe that presently Rome Statute crimes are being committed in Darfur by both the Sudanese armed forces and the Rapid Support Forces and affiliated groups," Khan said.
Secretary-General Guterres urged support for the ICC, saying its role in prosecuting those involved in “atrocities” in Darfur “is absolutely essential.”
Humanitarian chief Griffith and U.N. refugee chief Filippo Grandi appealed for $4.1 billion in international support for embattled civilians in Sudan amid signs that some may be dying of starvation after nearly a year of war.
The agencies said that half of Sudan’s population, or around 25 million people, requires support and protection, and that the requested funds would go to help millions of civilians in Sudan and others who have fled abroad.