Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on the Political and Humanitarian Situation in South Sudan

Ambassador Robert Wood
Alternate Representative for Special Political Affairs
New York, New York
March 6, 2023


Thank you, Mr. President. First, I would like to congratulate Malta on its successful presidency, and we wish Mozambique the best of luck with the beginning of their Presidency of the Council.

Secondly, we thank Special Representative Haysom for his thoughtful briefing today. I would also like to thank Mr. Talahma for his insights on the evolving situation in South Sudan.

The United States remains greatly appreciative to the leadership of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan, the people of UNMISS, and to the troop- and police-contributing countries and humanitarian partners who serve to protect civilians in South Sudan and mitigate conflict in many volatile areas.

We are gravely alarmed over the rise of violence against civilians in South Sudan during the reporting period, where killings of civilians increased by 79 percent, civilians harmed increased by 87 percent, abductions of women and children increased by 464 percent, and conflict related sexual violence increased by 360 percent compared to last year according to UNMISS’ recent report. We reiterate our view that South Sudan’s transitional leaders bear responsibility to end sub-national violence against its people and hold perpetrators accountable.

We remind the Transitional Government of South Sudan that it has not upheld its primary responsibility to protect the civilians of South Sudan. If the Transitional Government wishes to achieve a successful transition to a permanent government, then it is imperative that it take responsibility to protect civilians and create a secure and stable electoral environment.

We are encouraged to hear that impediments to UNMISS’ freedom of movement have been reduced. We note that UNMISS’ freedom of movement in line with its mandate is critical for the Mission to implement its mandated tasks. We urge UNMISS to become more proactive in implementing its protection of civilians mandate and deploy peacekeepers to areas of heightened violence, irrespective of approval of the local or national authorities, where civilians are at the greatest risks of physical violence now that movement restrictions have improved.

We also stress that South Sudan’s transitional leaders must deliver the results they committed to in the peace agreement and address immediate issues, such as the ongoing violence in Upper Nile State and the dire humanitarian situation.

Turning to the humanitarian situation, we strongly call on the Transitional Government of South Sudan to facilitate unhindered access throughout the country, including access along the Nile River corridor, to UNMISS peacekeepers, personnel, and humanitarian partners to adequately respond to outbreaks of sub-national violence and provide lifesaving aid to South Sudanese people.

Twenty twenty-three will mark a critical year for South Sudanese leaders to uphold their commitments on implementing benchmarks of the peace agreement. We recognize the government’s request for UNMISS’s support for elections but underscore that for elections to be free and fair, transitional leaders must first expand civic space and create conditions under which all political parties, civil society, internally displaced persons, and South Sudanese citizens, including women, youth, and displaced persons, will have full equal and meaningful inclusion in the peace process that will shape South Sudan’s future. We call upon the Transitional Government to act now to show the political will to create such conditions, including by ensuring that South Sudanese men and women can freely express their political views without fear of arrest.

The last point I would like to express is our deep concern over the humanitarian crisis. The Transitional Government reported $1.6 billion in oil revenue last year yet continues to fail to allocate those resources to address the humanitarian needs of its population. We urgently call on South Sudanese officials to dedicate more of its oil revenue to addressing the crisis and allow and facilitate the safe access and delivery of humanitarian assistance in South Sudan. We also condemn the killings of five humanitarian workers since the beginning of the year and call on the government to fully support humanitarian access and protect humanitarian aids working tirelessly to deliver aid to South Sudanese people.

The United States remains committed to the cause of peace and to the people of South Sudan.

Thank you, Mr. President.