9655th Meeting (PM)

Adopting Resolution 2736 (2024) with 14 Votes in Favour, Russian Federation Abstaining, Security Council Demands Rapid Support Forces Halt Siege of El Fasher, Sudan

Amid the alarming humanitarian situation in Sudan, the Security Council today adopted by 14 votes in favour — with the Russian Federation abstaining — a resolution demanding that the Rapid Support Forces halt the siege of El Fasher and calling for an immediate halt to the fighting and de-escalation in and around the capital city of North Darfur State.

Also by the text — resolution 2736 (2024) (to be issued as document S/RES/2736 (2024)) — the 15-member organ called for the withdrawal of all fighters that threaten the safety and security of civilians, with the support of local mediation mechanisms.

The Council demanded that all parties to the conflict ensure civilians be protected, including by allowing those wishing to move within and out of El Fasher to safer areas to do so — and requested that the parties allow and facilitate the rapid, safe, unhindered and sustained passage of humanitarian relief for civilians in need, including by removing bureaucratic and other impediments.

The Council also asked the Secretary-General — in consultation with the Sudanese authorities and regional stakeholders — to make further recommendations for the protection of civilians in Sudan and encouraged the coordinated engagement of his Personal Envoy on Sudan, Ramtane Lamamra, with the African Union, the League of Arab States and other key regional actors to help advance peace in that country.

Speaking after the vote, the United Kingdom’s delegate warned that “an attack on [El Fasher] would be catastrophic for the 1.5 million people sheltering there”.  The resolution — proposed by London — aims to secure “a localized ceasefire” around El Fasher and create wider conditions to support de-escalation across the country and ultimately save lives.  “Civilians need to be allowed to leave the city, and aid needs to get in,” she stressed, adding that the humanitarian needs of the Sudanese population are severe, particularly across Darfur, and protection needs are alarming.  

Detailing the text, she noted it calls on the Sudanese authorities to increase cooperation with UN agencies and help facilitate a significant scale-up of aid.  It also shows that the Council remains committed to supporting peace efforts in the country, she said, stressing:  “This brutal and unjust conflict needs to end”.

The resolution’s adoption “could not come at a more precarious moment”, said her counterpart from the United States, adding that the people of El Fasher are trapped, surrounded by heavily armed Rapid Support Forces, while food, water, medicine and other essentials are drying up. Moreover, famine is setting in, and the threat of further violence, including a large-scale massacre, looms large. The Council is now beginning to live up to its responsibility to stand with the Sudanese people, but “this is not a moment for us to pat ourselves on the back, as the impact of today’s vote will be measured by the results on the ground,” she stated.

The representative of Sierra Leone spoke, also for Algeria, Guyana and Mozambique, to highlight their votes in favour of the text.  This reflects the conviction that the Council must respond swiftly to the alarming situation in El Fasher.  The Sudanese authorities mentioned in the text refer “only and solely” to the Sudanese Government.  Strongly emphasizing the resolution’s call on Member States to refrain from external interferences, he reminded those who facilitated the transfer of arms and military material to Darfur of their clear obligations.

The speaker for Switzerland stressed that the resolution sends a strong and vital message to the Rapid Support Forces to end the siege of El Fasher and to the warring parties to cease hostilities immediately and respect their obligations under international humanitarian law.  Her country will continue to engage in the forthcoming discussions and remain attentive to the Secretary-General’s update on the text’s implementation, particularly concerning the protection of civilians and respect for international humanitarian law.

Along similar lines, Malta’s delegate, whose delegation voted in favour, observed that the resolution issues a robust message on the illicit transfer of arms and military material to Darfur, reminding all parties to the conflict of their obligation to comply with the arms embargo measures.  He voiced deep concern over the risk of famine in Darfur and the assault on the southern hospital in El Fasher, which tragically claimed the lives of humanitarian personnel.  Malta is also appalled by the reports of the massacre in Wad Al-Noora in Gezira State, he added.

Also condemning the deadly attack in the Wad Al-Noora village, the speaker for Slovenia — whose delegation voted in favour — cited the Council’s duty to voice its concern over the severe conditions throughout Sudan. “The humanitarian situation in and around El Fasher is beyond alarming,” he said, emphasizing the need for immediate, safe and unhindered cross-border and crossline humanitarian access to El Fasher and across Darfur.

Meanwhile, the delegate for the Russian Federation, who abstained in the vote, said that the text itself is “at odds with the reality on the ground” and ignores principled comments from the Sudanese themselves. It also contains dubious decisions from the point of view of the country’s sovereignty and unity.  “We cannot agree with the proposed call on all Sudanese parties to ensure free humanitarian access,” she asserted, drawing the Council’s attention to the fact that the question of national border control and border crossing of any goods is “a sovereign affair of the authorities in charge”.

She emphasized that any attempt to impose artificial exemption from this fundamental principle — and even delegate the authority to a non-State actor — is a flagrant infringement on Sudan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.  Also, she observed, rather than “artificially instrumentalizing the topic of famine”, certain States should pay primary attention to cooperation with the Sudanese authorities in addressing the food problem and supporting agriculture.

“The recent escalation of the situation in El Fasher and other locations has resulted in hundreds of thousands of civilians being caught in the crossfire,” said the speaker of China, whose delegation voted in favour. “Allowing the fighting to continue would only deepen the humanitarian crisis and bring more turmoil to the entire region,” he cautioned, citing the lack of funds as the primary challenge. 

Almost halfway through 2024, the Sudan humanitarian response plan is only 16 per cent funded, he pointed out, calling on donors to provide assistance at scale and ensure that aid operations reach everyone in need.  Commending the tremendous efforts made by the Sudanese Government and urging the international community to respect the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, he expressed hope that “Sudan will emerge from the shadow of war and restore peace and tranquillity as soon as possible”.

For information media. Not an official record.