We express our gratitude to the Secretary-General for his strong commitment and to the Special Representative for his intervention, as well as to him and his team for their work under the current extremely difficult circumstances. We also thank the Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Permanent Observer of the AU for their briefings. We hope to hear the one of the IGAD Special Envoy as well.
The civilian population in Sudan is paying a heavy price for this relentless spiral of violence, despite their hopes for a peaceful democratic transition. The events of the last few days are clearly a worst-case scenario.
In this context, let me focus on three issues:
First, hundreds of civilians have been killed, thousands more injured, and the toll continues to rise. We express our condolences to the victims and their families. Our thoughts are also with the civilians who are currently trapped, waiting for the fighting to stop. We take note of the fact that yesterday the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces declared a nationwide ceasefire for three days. In the context of several unsuccessful attempts to silence the guns in recent days and even recent hours, we call on both parties to immediately and fully uphold this ceasefire.
Second, we are deeply concerned regarding the humanitarian situation, which is deteriorating by the day. The clashes, mostly in urban areas, make the delivery of humanitarian aid almost impossible. The only hospitals that are still operational are increasingly unable to help the many wounded. This is untenable and unacceptable. Switzerland urges both parties to assume their responsibility by allowing and facilitating rapid, sustainable and unhindered humanitarian access to civilians in need and by allowing the evacuation of the injured. Furthermore, we urge the parties to fully respect their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law. This includes taking special precautions to protect the most vulnerable, such as children, and not targeting areas where they might take refuge, including schools.
Third, both sides must ensure the security and protection of the civilian population and diplomatic missions and staff, the UN and humanitarian and medical agencies, and humanitarian goods and services. To date, at least five humanitarian workers and one employee of an Embassy have been killed, humanitarian property is being looted, and attacks are being carried out against UN staff and property, NGOs and diplomatic missions. This must stop. Intentionally directing attacks against personnel, facilities or equipment employed in a humanitarian assistance mission may constitute a war crime. We regret that some of these personnel had to be evacuated due to the insecurity, including the staff of our Embassy. This severely limits the ability of many organisations, both bilateral and multilateral, to support the Sudanese population in these difficult times.
To conclude, we welcome the ongoing diplomatic efforts by regional organisations, including the AU, IGAD and the League of Arab States, and by bilateral partners. In this regard, a close coordination is essential, as underlined in the Communiqué of the AU Ministerial Meeting of 20 April. That said, we must also highlight the tireless efforts of Sudanese civilian actors who remain at the heart of a lasting solution and a peaceful future.
The Security Council has an essential role to play in restoring peace and security in Sudan. Switzerland stands ready to support efforts to achieve a lasting ceasefire, and calls on all members of the Council to speak with one voice, as they did on 15 April, to promote a complete end to hostilities and a return to dialogue between the parties.
I thank you.