I thank the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for his intervention, and I would like to express Switzerland's gratitude to him and his team for their tireless efforts in extremely difficult circumstances. We also thank the Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security of the African Union and the Executive Secretary of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) for their interventions. I welcome the presence of the Permanent Representative of Sudan.
Sudanese civilian actors have played a key role in efforts to revert to a democratic transition. They now also have a critical role to play in political efforts to stabilise the current situation. Their voices must be heard. I therefore regret that the current conditions did not allow a civil society briefer to participate safely in today's briefing.
I share the concerns expressed by my colleagues about the continued fighting, which is plunging Sudan - which has already been hit by an unprecedented humanitarian crisis - into a humanitarian catastrophe. The latest reports on the escalation of violence in El-Geneina, West Darfur, are particularly worrying. We express our sincere condolences to the families of the victims.
I would like to highlight three points:
Firstly, it is essential to silence the weapons to protect civilians. The heavy toll this conflict is taking on the population is unacceptable. Yet fighting has continued in densely populated areas, critical infrastructure has been targeted, and widespread looting and theft threaten the safety and livelihoods of civilians. Many diplomatic premises as well as those of humanitarian organisations have been looted or destroyed. This severely limits the ability to support the Sudanese population. The conflict also threatens to exacerbate existing conflicts, particularly in Darfur and in Blue Nile state, which could lead to a further escalation of the conflict.
Secondly, both parties to the conflict must respect international humanitarian law. Fathers, mothers and children remain trapped in the crossfire and struggle to access food, water and medical care. It is essential to facilitate and enable full, safe, rapid and unhindered humanitarian access to civilians in need and the evacuation of the wounded, as reaffirmed in the Jeddah Declaration. Many of those who have been able to flee the violence remain acutely vulnerable and need our full support. We commend the countries of the region for their solidarity in receiving refugees and returnees. We welcome the signing of the Short-Term Ceasefire and Humanitarian Arrangements by the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces in Jeddah, which enters into force this evening. Its full implementation is crucial to alleviate the suffering of the population. Switzerland will continue to support humanitarian efforts in Sudan and in the region.
Thirdly, respect for a durable ceasefire must be complemented by a return to negotiations. In this regard, we support ongoing diplomatic efforts, in particular those of the African Union, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, the League of Arab States, UNITAMS, neighbouring countries and bilateral partners. These diplomatic efforts should be closely coordinated. In the context of an eventual return to a political process, it is important to recognise that Sudanese civilian actors remain central to any sustainable solution.
In conclusion, we reiterate our full support for UNITAMS and the Trilateral Mechanism. We stand with the Sudanese people to achieve their aspirations for peace, justice and democratic governance.