The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has called for an immediate ceasefire in Sudan during the upcoming month of Ramadan. The primary goal is to facilitate the delivery of vital aid to the 25 million people facing severe food shortages in the war-torn nation. The humanitarian situation in Sudan has reached a breaking point, with the conflict escalating since its initiation on 15 April 2023.

The United Kingdom proposed the resolution, which received support from 14 of the 15-member council. However, Russia chose to abstain from the vote, expressing scepticism about the true intentions behind the Western-led initiative.

The resolution emphasises a cessation of hostilities before Ramadan, a sacred period for Muslims involving fasting, prayer, and reflection. It urges all parties in the Sudanese conflict, notably General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan’s army and General Mohamed Hamdan Hemedti Dagalo’s Rapid Support Forces (RSF), to seek a sustainable resolution through dialogue.

The conflict has resulted in tens of thousands of casualties, 8.3 million forcibly displaced, and extensive damage to infrastructure and the economy. Britain’s deputy UN ambassador, James Kariuki, called on the Sudanese Armed Forces and RSF to heed the international call for peace.

The UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, emphasised the importance of both sides honouring the values of Ramadan and implementing a cessation of hostilities. Guterres warned that the conflict jeopardises Sudan’s unity and has the potential to spark regional instability of significant proportions.

The African Union also supports a cessation of fighting during Ramadan, with the holy month expected to commence on or around Monday, contingent on the sighting of the crescent moon.

General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan reportedly welcomed the UN chief’s appeal for a ceasefire. The Sudanese Foreign Ministry outlined conditions for an effective ceasefire, including withdrawing RSF from provinces they control. The RSF has yet to respond to these conditions.

Russia found fault with the ceasefire initiative, claiming that the UNSC has failed to call for an immediate ceasefire in the Israel-Gaza conflict. Russia’s deputy UN ambassador, Anna Evstigneeva, expressed scepticism about Western countries’ intentions, highlighting perceived double standards and contrasting the prompt action in Sudan with delayed efforts for Gaza.

Half Sudan’s 50 million population requires aid, with nearly 18 million on the brink of famine. The UN’s humanitarian response plan for Sudan 2024, with a budget of $2.7 billion, is currently only four per cent funded.