Ambassador Robert Wood
Alternate Representative for Special Political Affairs
New York, New York
May 9, 2023
Thank you, Madam President. Thank you, Assistant-Secretary-General Pobee and Special Envoy Tetteh, for sharing UNISFA’s progress on mandate implementation and your updates on Abyei. I’d like to begin by thanking UNISFA’s leadership personnel, who continue to provide stability and peace in Abyei despite the ongoing challenges from the Sudan crisis.
It is disappointing to learn that hostilities in Khartoum have further jeopardized the safety and security of UNISFA personnel, as well as impeded UNISFA’s ability to carry out its mandated tasks, including protecting civilians, assisting humanitarian efforts, and supporting a peaceful settlement of the final status of Abyei and its border issues and the establishment of the Abyei Police Service.
The United States condemns the ongoing fighting in Khartoum between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces. We are deeply concerned about the killing of over 500 people, internal displacement of 334,000 civilians, and the safety and security of over 100,000 people fleeing to neighboring countries. We are also deeply concerned about protection of children and reports of conflict related sexual violence towards women, children, and men.
According to UNICEF, the fighting in Sudan has led to a child protection crisis, in which children are separated from their families, abducted, and recruited. We gravely stress that child protection must be a priority and urge UNISFA, regional partners and international partners, and Council members to follow good practices for child protection during the Sudan crisis.
We stand in solidarity with the people of Sudan in their unshakable commitment to democracy, and urgently call for the SAF and RSF to implement and uphold a permanent nationwide ceasefire. We urgently call on parties to commit to the the safety, security, and protection of civilians and to return immediately to the process of resuming Sudan’s transition to civilian rule.
We are also gravely concerned for the millions of civilians in need of life-saving humanitarian assistance in Sudan, and the growing attacks on humanitarian aid workers. Armed actors are targeting humanitarian assets and facilities, looting field vehicles, and damaging aircrafts used to transport aid workers and supplies; limiting assistance to areas where it is needed most.
The inability of humanitarian organizations to safely operate threatens to further impact millions of vulnerable Sudanese, especially those displaced by the ongoing fighting.
The United States reiterates our call to parties to ensure the safety and security of all UN staff, facilities, and humanitarian and medical personnel. We strongly urge the parties ensure UNISFA and humanitarian partners have immediate, full, safe, unhindered access and capacity to carry out their life-saving work throughout Sudan.
We are deeply alarmed at the consistent presence of Sudanese and South Sudanese forces and police in Abyei – clear violations of the demilitarization of the Abyei box. We stress that Abyei should remain demilitarized from any forces besides UNISFA.
We further stress the need for South Sudan to support the Joint Border Verification Monitoring Mechanism in re-establishing Sector 1, located in southern Abyei, given the ongoing fighting between the Ngok Dinka and Twic Dinka, influx of refugees and internally displaced people fleeing from Sudan, and the presence of armed forces.
We are pleased with UNISFA’s continued engagement to resolve tensions between the Ngok Dinka and Twic Dinka. We strongly encourage UNISFA to strengthen these efforts, and we reiterate the Secretary-General’s call on both communities to uphold their ceasefire agreement and utilize the tools UNISFA offers to support and enable a safe and inclusive environment. We further call on the Misseriya and Ngok Dinka to utilize peaceful solutions during the seasonal migration period.
To that end, we also encourage UNISFA to continue to pursue gender parity at all levels, and to incorporate the perspectives of women and youth within its important work.
Thank you, Madam President.