“Sudan has already endured so much pain and suffering. The fighting is born out of power games and personal interests that only serve to alienate the democratic aspirations of the population,” said Mr. Türk, adding, “Do those responsible not understand that the civilian population now only craves a peaceful life?”
The Sudanese army and a rival paramilitary group known as the Rapid Support Forces have been locked in intense fighting for four days. The unrest erupted as Sudan appeared to be returning to the path towards democratic transition following three decades of military rule.
International media reported that the sides have agreed to a 24-hour ceasefire, which is set to begin at 6pm, local time.
Trapped at home
Among those killed were three staff members with the World Food Programme (WFP) working in North Darfur, prompting a temporary suspension in activities across the county. UN agencies in Sudan have also halted their operations.
Most of the fighting has occurred in the capital, Khartoum, where crossfire at the airport also reportedly damaged a UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) plane which could seriously affect the UN’s ability to access remote areas, where needs are highest.
“Thousands upon thousands of civilians are trapped in their homes, shielding from the fighting, with no electricity, unable to venture out and worried about running out of food, drinking water and medicine,” Mr. Türk said.
‘Common sense must prevail’
He urged the warring sides to remind their fighters of their obligation to ensure the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure, such as schools and hospitals, as stated under international law.
The UN rights chief also said he was appalled by reports of attempted rape. He called for prompt, thorough and independent investigations into the killings of civilians, including the WFP staff, along with other reported violations, adding that those responsible must be held to account.
“Only a few weeks ago, Sudan appeared to be on the right path towards an agreement that would restore civilian rule,” said Mr. Türk. “Common sense must prevail, and all parties must act to de-escalate tensions. The shared interests of the Sudanese people must come first.”