ADDIS ABABA– Kenya’s President William Ruto, who is also the chairman of the IGAD Quartet on Sudan, has termed the situation in the country as dire, with data indicating over 2,000 people have been killed, while 2.9 million others have been displaced.
Speaking following the inaugural IGAD mediation Quartet of Kenya, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Djibouti meeting in Addis Ababa on Monday, July 10, President Ruto said the crisis is exerting more pressure on neighbouring countries, and that targeted inter-ethnic attacks in Darfur were steadily spiraling towards the commission of genocide.
He said Sudan Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Force must also agree to establish a humanitarian zone, a move no noted would stop the loss of lives, ease access to public services and facilitate a settlement of the conflict.
Further he pointed out, this will lead to the resumption of the final phase of the political process.
“This will lay the foundation for a peaceful, stable and prosperous Sudan,” he said during the IGAD Quartet Heads of State and Government meeting that focussed on the Sudan conflict.
Present were Prime Minister of Ethiopia Abiy Ahmed, IGAD Executive Secretary Workneh Gebeyehu, UN Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths, Djibouti Minister of Foreign Mahamoud Ali Youssouf and the representatives of United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, European Union, among others.
“The intensity and scale of the humanitarian crisis is a harrowing calamity. This alarming state of affairs calls for a bold and all-inclusive peace dialogue,” he told the meeting.
Notably, Djibouti President Ismail Guelleh and his South Sudan counterpart Salva Kiir were absent. President Guelleh was represented by his Foreign minister.
Ruto’s remarks come a day after UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Sunday, July 9, condemned the air strike in the Sudanese city of Omdurman on Saturday which reportedly killed at least 22 people.
The UN chief said he remains deeply concerned that the ongoing war has pushed Sudan to the brink of a full-scale civil war, potentially destabilising the entire region.
Through a statement by UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq, the Secretary-General said he was appalled by reports of large-scale violence and casualties across Darfur, noting that there is an “utter disregard for humanitarian and human rights law that is dangerous and disturbing”.
Guterres reiterated his call for the Sudanese Armed Forces and the RSF to cease fighting and commit to a durable cessation of hostilities.
“He also urges these parties to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law to protect civilians and to enable humanitarian action,” the statement said.
US assistant secretary of State for African affairs Molly Phee was expected in Addis Ababa on Monday and Tuesday to meet with African leaders and Sudanese civilians on how to end the conflict in Sudan, the State Department said on Sunday.
Diplomatic efforts to halt fighting between Sudan’s army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces have not borne fruits yet with competing initiatives creating confusion over how the warring parties might be brought to negotiate.
Meanwhile, the UN continues to push for the cohesion of international efforts under the auspices of the African Union, and welcomes the strong engagement of the East African bloc IGAD.