Guterres told journalists in New York that the UN is in contact with the parties to the conflict. A ceasefire for the so-called Sugar Festival (Aid al-Fitr), which is celebrated at the end of the Islamic month of fasting Ramadan, must be a “first stage” and enable a lasting ceasefire.

In the northeast African country, units of the army and the paramilitary militia RSF have been fighting bitterly since Saturday. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the number of dead has risen to almost 330 and the number of injured to 3,200.

According to the UN, up to 20,000 people have fled to neighboring Chad because of the fighting. Most of them are women and children who now have to be provided with food, water and shelter, said the UN refugee agency UNHCR.

Fighting is also going on in the Darfur region in the west of the country. Three World Food Program workers were killed there at the start of the fighting. Explosions were also heard on Thursday in the city of Al-Obeid, 350 kilometers south of Khartoum.

Federal Defense Minister Boris Pistorius (SPD) told the TV station Welt about the situation of foreigners in Sudan: “It’s about finding a way to get people out quickly.” According to a report by “Spiegel”, the Bundeswehr had to cancel an evacuation campaign on Wednesday. According to this, a good 150 Germans should have been flown out of Sudan. The action failed because of the ongoing fighting.

Meanwhile, the United States is sending more soldiers to the region to evacuate its embassy in Khartoum if necessary. The US Department of Defense said Thursday it was making preparations for “various contingencies.” In this context, “additional skills” would be sent to possibly secure the embassy or bring embassy staff to safety. The additional soldiers are to be relocated near Sudan.

The fighting is the result of a deep rift between the army and the paramilitary RSF, which was founded in 2013 by long-time ruler Omar al-Bashir, who was later overthrown jointly by the army and RSF. Army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and RSF leader Mohamed Hamdan Daglo have been allies since taking power in 2019, despite some tensions.

In October 2021, both also led the military coup against civilian government, halting the internationally supported transition to democracy. Daglo, known as Hemeti, now calls the coup a “mistake,” while al-Burhan continues to insist. On Thursday, al-Burhan ruled out “further political talks” with RSF representatives to the broadcaster Al-Jazeera.