Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA)

Ambassador Jonathan Cohen
Deputy U.S. Representative
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
October 24, 2019


Thank you, Mr. President.

And thank you, Under Secretary General LaCroix and Special Envoy Onanga-Anyanga, for your briefings on the latest developments on the ground in Abyei, and along the Sudan/South Sudan border.

Mr. President, the United States would like to extend particular thanks to Ethiopia for its contributions to UNISFA. Without Ethiopia’s efforts, the relatively stable situation in Abyei would not be possible. The United States recognizes that Abyei is a strategic crossroads between Sudan and South Sudan and resolving Abyei’s political status is needed for a complete and lasting peace in the region. While the internal political shifts in Sudan and South Sudan provide some momentum toward resolving ongoing disputes, unfortunately these developments have yet to prompt action to resolve Abyei’s final status.

Mr. President, we remain concerned that UNISFA is not being allowed to fully implement its mandate. We call on both parties to ensure UNIFSA can operate as an effective and efficient peacekeeping mission, including by granting visas for UN police and allowing the appointment of a civilian deputy. While insecurity remains contained in Abyei, the situation is fragile, as evidenced by attacks on UNISFA personnel, rising criminality and ongoing incidents of cattle rustling and kidnapping. This is all unacceptable.

In recognition of the vital role that women play in securing peace and security Mr. President, we support UNISFA’s efforts to encourage local peace committees to include women leaders. Their absence limits prospects for achieving a lasting peace.

The United States welcomes UNIFSA’s efforts to stabilize Abyei through supporting local peace communities, establishing new checkpoints, resolving local conflicts and disarming the population. We also commend the work of non-governmental organizations and UN agencies undertaking work in support of local populations in Abyei.

Mr. President, we endorse the Secretary-General’s call for a UN Special Envoy Onanga-Anyanga and the African Union, to increase their efforts to secure a resolution of the political conflicts in Abyei. We look forward to learning more on this.

Mr. President, the United States remains committed to peace and security in Abyei. Supporting peace there will enable long-term stability for both Sudan and South Sudan.

I thank you for your attention.