UN boss calls for Sudan ceasefire, lauds Kenya role in peace-keeping

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres is welcomed at Nairobi State House by President William Ruto. [PCS]

More than 800,000 people could flee the war-torn Sudan as fighting escalates in the country, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has said.

The UN boss said Sudanese are facing a humanitarian catastrophe following destruction of hospitals and looting of humanitarian warehouses, subjecting millions to food insecurity.

"Khartoum is in turmoil; Darfur is burning once again and the fighting needs to stop now before more people die and this conflict explodes into an all-out war that could affect the region for years to come," said Mr Guterres.

He called on the warring parties to de-escalate tensions, return to the negotiating table, and agree on a lasting ceasefire.

Guterres further called on the international community to support the Sudanese people in their pursuit of peace and a return to the democratic transition.

"Help must be allowed into Sudan, and we need secure and immediate access to be able to distribute it to people who need it most. Civilians and civilian infrastructure must be protected, and humanitarian workers and assets must be respected," he added.

He spoke at the UN regional headquarters in Gigiri, Nairobi, where chief executives of the UN system are gathering.

Guterres described Africa as a place of enormous natural, human, cultural and entrepreneurial richness. He cited a recent ceasefire in Libya and peace agreement in the Central African Republic as cause for optimism.

"We are seeing African leadership working to solve African problems. I salute Kenya's leadership role in the peace processes in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia.

"Last month, I visited Somalia where I saw important progress in the fight against terrorism-bolstered by the African Union Transition Mission there," the UN boss said.

At the same time, Guterres castigated Western countries over the historic and economic injustices inflicted on Africa in regard to climate injustice and an unjust global financial system, among other ills.

"Last year, the International Monetary Fund allocated $650 billion in Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) to boost liquidity during crises. The countries of the European Union received a total of $160 billion SDRs while African countries, with three times the population, received just $34 billion," he said.

While African countries are leading the way on climate mitigation, with little contribution to climate change, Guterres said the continent suffers adverse effects, including flooding, hunger and deadly droughts.