Ambassador Richard Mills
U.S. Deputy Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
October 27, 2021
Thank you, Mr. President, and welcome home. I want to thank the Under-Secretary-General, the Special Envoy, and Chairperson Mbeke, for their comprehensive briefings today. What we heard today from each of them will inform us as we consider modifications to UNISFA’s mandate before it expires on November 15.
Let me begin by reaffirming U.S. support for UNISFA, particularly as the mission undertakes to fulfil its mandated tasks in spite of many constraints. And we want to thank all UNISFA personnel – uniformed and civilian – for their dedicated efforts to bring peace, security, and stability to the region.
Mr. President, as I begin, I cannot ignore today that the renewal of UNISFA’s mandate is happening against the backdrop, as we heard, of alarming developments in Sudan, of which the Council discussed yesterday. The United States has condemned the military takeover of the Transitional Government in Sudan. This contravenes the Constitutional Declaration and the democratic aspirations of the Sudanese people, and is utterly unacceptable. As we have said repeatedly, any changes to the Transitional Government by force, in Khartoum, puts at risk U.S. assistance.
Let me also take a moment to express the United States’ deepest condolences for the loss of life of a UNISFA peacekeeper, from Ethiopia, on September 14. As the Council affirmed through its press statement on October 15, the safety and security of its peacekeepers is of the highest importance and it is unacceptable that a UN peacekeeper lost his life following the denial of flight clearances for urgent medical care. It is also frankly unconscionable that individuals in Gok Machar blocked food, water, and medical supplies from reaching UN peacekeepers stationed in the area. We call on the Government of South Sudan to urgently readmit supplies to allow the UN peacekeepers to fulfil this Council’s mandated tasks and to immediately take steps to de-escalate tensions and prevent violent attacks against UNISFA personnel. And to ensure the safety of UN personnel, we call on both the Governments of Sudan and South Sudan to authorize all landing clearance requests that are related to CEDAVAC and MEDVAC evacuations.
The United States is also increasingly alarmed by attempts by the community in Gok Machar to force UNISFA and the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism from its Sector 1 headquarters. The lack of political will from the Government of South Sudan to intervene and engage with these local actors has resulted in UNISFA’s relocation and the closure, as we heard, of Team Sites 11 and 12. This severely undercuts the mission’s ability to carry out its mandate and the operation of the JBVMM. We strongly urge the Government of South Sudan to take immediate action to re-operationalize the JBVMM, facilitate the re-deployment of UNISFA personnel to Gok Machar, and take actions to facilitate the mandates of UNISFA and the JBVMM.
The United States is pleased to see the many security measures that have been undertaken by UNISFA to reduce the threats to civilians, these have included establishing checkpoints along the Main Supply Route, conducting search and seizure operations, long range patrols, and routine aerial patrols, as well as developing an early-warning system to respond swiftly to violence. We certainly encourage the Governments of Sudan and South Sudan to support the mission in these efforts.
We also call for greater support to the strengthening the role of UN Police to address the increase in criminality and armed elements. UN Police exercise an important role through engagement with the local communities in Abyei through interactive patrols and community awareness campaigns that are related to crime, safety, and gender-based violence. It is important for the authorities to address the growing threat of crime in Abyei and prevent increasing insecurity. They can do so by facilitating the deployment of UNISFA’s formed police units. We call on the Government of Sudan to swiftly issue visas for the remaining UN police and other personnel.
I also want to commend UNISFA for its work to improve living conditions in the communities that are gravely impacted by lack of access to water, sanitation, basic public health, food, and government services. UNISFA’s efforts to facilitate conditions for several humanitarian organizations has helped provide life-saving assistance for more than 100,000 vulnerable people. Meanwhile, women’s participation is gradually increasing in political spaces in Abyei thanks to UNISFA’s efforts.
Mr. President let me end by saying, the United States remains committed to cooperating closely with the governments and people of the region, our fellow Council members, and all stakeholders to deepen the prospects for peace, security, and prosperity in Sudan and South Sudan.
Thank you, Mr. President.