Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, Mr. Shearer, for your briefing. We also thank President Mogae for his briefing and his tireless efforts to bring peace to South Sudan.
The people of South Sudan are suffering, and the promise of their hard-fought independence is slipping away. We are so concerned, in fact, about the deteriorating situation in South Sudan – and elsewhere in central and east Africa – that President Trump announced last week that he has asked me to go to Africa in October. While there, I will go to Juba as a representative of my government, but also as a representative to the Security Council.
Six months have passed since the Security Council demanded the warring parties in South Sudan to cease fighting and return to the negotiation table. Each month since, we have gathered here to lament the terrible situation in South Sudan. Each month we have urged the parties to stop fighting. We have called on them to stop obstructing the UN Mission in South Sudan. We have watched in dismay as hundreds of people each day are forced to flee their homes, and hunger has set in. Each month, we have watched the situation in South Sudan become worse, not better – and we issue still more calls to action.
We’re disappointed this Council refuses to stem the flow of arms to South Sudan or to punish those who victimize their own people. Still, we know the real responsibility and power for change lies with South Sudan’s leaders. But so far, the Government of South Sudan has not responded to the pleas of this Council to create an inclusive government and put an end to the fighting. There a great deal of work left to do.
The violence and destruction have left two million South Sudanese displaced, two million more refugees, six million facing near famine conditions, and countless dead.
The impact on children has been especially severe. Seventeen thousand children have been abducted or recruited into armed groups. More than 15,000 children have been pulled apart from their family and other loved ones. More than 1.1 million children face acute malnutrition, and barely half of school aged children are in the classrooms. These are sobering statistics with dire implications for the safety, well-being, and future of an entire generation.
The UN Mission is in South Sudan to respond to this crisis, to help protect civilians and ease their suffering. UNMISS shelters more than 200,000 civilians at sites across the country. It tries to reach more, but its operations are continually frustrated. We call on the Government of South Sudan to welcome the assistance of the UN Mission and to cooperate with it in fulfilling its mandate for the South Sudanese people.
The United States is not waiting to act. Earlier this month, we imposed economic and financial sanctions against individuals who have obstructed the peace process, denied access to humanitarian assistance, and interfered with the peacekeeping mission.
The United States will do what it can to reduce the suffering in South Sudan, and the Security Council and regional actors must do more. But our bottom-line message to the South Sudanese leaders will be that they seize this opportunity to take the initiative. They have a way to stop this violence. The Intergovernmental Authority on Development has presented them with a way to resuscitate the peace agreement and to do so quickly. But time is running short.
This is the last chance at salvaging the peace agreement in South Sudan. The different parties to the conflict must use the next several weeks to commit themselves to this process and to conclude it.
Our hope is that South Sudan’s leaders will seize this opportunity. If not, we must resolve now – both individually and collectively – to do more to end this conflict.
As for the people of South Sudan, we look forward to delivering the message in person very soon that we have not given up on them and have not forgotten them. The people of South Sudan have a friend and an advocate in the United States of America.