Ambassador Richard Mills
U.S. Deputy Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
April 26, 2021
Thank you, Mr. President. I want to thank the Under-Secretary-General and Special Envoy for their briefings today. We appreciate your leadership and dedicated support for Abyei, and the resolution of outstanding border issues between the Sudan and South Sudan.
The United States wants to reiterate its commitment to support stability in Abyei, along the border between Sudan and South Sudan, and in the broader region. The overall recent deterioration of the security situation within and between countries in the region is of deep concern to the United States. Several overlapping crises could further endanger the security of the people in Abyei, and we urge all parties to reinforce their efforts to find ways to reduce tensions, and to refrain from any unilateral declarations or actions that could destabilize Abyei and that would endanger civilians.
We are disappointed that tensions in the region prevented the holding of joint consultations with Sudan, South Sudan, and Ethiopia to discuss the future of UNISFA, as requested by this Council in the current mandate. Nevertheless, we commend the Special Envoy’s efforts to conduct individual consultations with each country.
The United States welcomes continued cooperation between the Government of the Republic of Sudan and the Government of the Republic of South Sudan to manage bilateral disputes by supporting peace, security, and stability, and we encourage both countries to build on the commitments of the Juba Peace Agreement, to prioritize safety and security of civilians living in Abyei, ensure stability in the region, and to determine the final status of Abyei.
We also encourage all parties to find a mutually acceptable resolution of Abyei’s final status and the development of security arrangements to allow for a responsible exit of UNISFA. Until the two countries mutually agree on another arrangement, or Abyei’s final status is resolved, Sudan and South Sudan should abide by the 2011 Agreement on Abyei that led to the creation of UNISFA.
In this regard, the United States strongly encourages Sudan and South Sudan to move forward in setting up the agreed joint institutions, particularly the Joint Police Service. We urge South Sudan to name its 35 members of the Joint Police Service in conjunction with Sudan increasing the number of visas for UN police. The Joint Police Service would provide protection for areas of joint activity and interest. We again reiterate our call for Sudan to issue visas for UN personnel mandated by the Security Council, and for a civilian deputy head of mission.
The United States also remains concerned about obstacles that hinder UNISFA’s work to protect civilians and fully implement its mandate. The safety and security of peacekeepers is a priority for the United States. Denying access to the Anthony Airfield is endangering peacekeepers, given that it restricts UNISFA’s ability to provide medical or casualty evacuation in a timely manner. This must be addressed immediately.
We commend UNISFA’s effort to continue promoting women’s meaningful participation in community decision-making, and to protect women and girls from sexual and gender-based violence. The Secretary-General’s report indicated that more women are participating in peace dialogues, and that male traditional leaders in the Misseriya community committed to promote women’s participation in decision-making. This is welcome progress, and we look forward to hearing in the next report about further developments in this regard.
We call for the international community to support additional and equitable provision of humanitarian assistance to ensure that crisis-affected people and vulnerable populations – in both communities in Abyei – can access life-saving humanitarian aid. We ask Sudan and South Sudan to improve humanitarian access to allow humanitarian agencies to respond to emergencies. Threats to humanitarian staff providing lifesaving assistance to civilians in the Abyei area are unacceptable.
Finally, Mr. President, we look forward to leadership and engagement from the African Union to help facilitate development of mutually agreeable security arrangements for Abyei and final resolution of its status. In recent years, the relative calm in Abyei is the result of dedicated work by UNISFA and warming relations between Sudan and South Sudan. Now is the time to take advantage of the situation to develop longer-term solutions for the area that can be sustained after the departure of UN peacekeepers.
The United States stands ready to support South Sudan, Sudan, and the region as it pursues a lasting security architecture.
Thank you, Mr. President.