Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
August 9, 2023
I would like to thank Ms. Wosornu for her leadership and Assistant Secretary-General Pobee for her sobering briefing. And while we are grateful for the ASG’s participation, we had expected SRSG Perthes to brief the Council. We now understand that the Sudanese government warned it would end the UN mission in Sudan if the SRSG participated in this briefing. And that is unacceptable.
I do welcome the participation of the Sudan PR and I look forward to hearing his statement on the situation in Sudan, and particularly efforts to end this senseless war. I also want to thank the United Kingdom for calling this important meeting. Ms. Wosornu, you noted in your statement the lack of international coverage of the situation in Sudan, which highlights the importance of having an open briefing like this.
It’s been over 100 days since fighting broke out between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces, and in that time, senseless violence has wrought unthinkable suffering. The situation has become – in the words of a doctor from Khartoum: “a living hell.” A living hell.
Millions of people have been displaced. We heard the numbers today. Civilians have been shot dead in the street. Children have been orphaned, forcibly recruited, subjected to violence. Women have been brutally raped. Fighting has blocked humanitarian assistance – food, water, medicine, and other essentials – from reaching people in dire need.
There are credible reports that the Rapid Support Forces and allied militias have carried out continued atrocities and other abuses in West Darfur. Killings based on ethnicity. Widespread sexual violence. The burning and looting of homes and villages. Tens of thousands of people forced to flee to neighboring Chad and other countries. History is repeating itself – in the most tragic way possible.
The United States condemns – in the strongest terms – these reported atrocities, which are an ominous reminder of the horrific events that led us to determine in 2004 that genocide had been committed in Darfur. And we are gravely concerned about the risk of further conflict in North and Central Darfur. Specifically, by a reported buildup of Rapid Support Forces and affiliated forces near El Fasher, which poses a threat to non-Arab populations in the area. We are also deeply concerned by unconfirmed reports of armed actors in Sudan preventing people from leaving areas of Darfur in search of safety, including across the border into Chad.
Colleagues, as we approach the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we have a responsibility to live up to the promise of this foundational document. To not just extol human rights, but defend them. So we must all demand the parties comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law regarding the protection of civilians.
Of course, the best way to protect civilians would be for parties to end this brutal conflict – once and for all. The United States, and regional and international partners, are unified in calling for the parties to immediately put down their weapons. And we echo the calls of countries in the region, including the July 10th Intergovernmental Authority on Development communique, to prevent any external interference and military support. This would only intensify and prolong the conflict at the expense of the people of Sudan.
We also support coordinated international diplomatic efforts by the AU, the IGAD, the League of Arab States, the UN, and other parties from the Horn of Africa and the Middle East. But until the guns are silenced, and for as long as this humanitarian crisis continues, we must support the people of Sudan, who have endured so much – so much – needless suffering.
The United States remains the largest single donor of humanitarian assistance to the people of Sudan. We’re working to support the millions of internally displaced people, the nearly one million people who have crossed into neighboring countries to seek refuge.
We must also work together to ensure that humanitarian assistance can reach people in dire need including those who can’t leave their homes because of fighting, fuel shortages, and, simply, because of fear. Bureaucratic hurdles and other barriers have hindered relief efforts. That, too, is unacceptable. Humanitarian workers must be free to do what they do best: they save lives. They need to be able to do that without roadblocks or delays.
We call on Sudanese authorities to expedite visa approvals for humanitarian workers – enable the movement of humanitarian goods and personnel throughout Sudan and facilitate the importation of humanitarian goods and equipment.
As the situation in Sudan has spiraled, neighboring countries have stepped up to welcome refugees. And we are deeply, deeply grateful for these acts of humanity. And we must encourage these countries to ensure refugees and asylum seekers have access to needed protections.
Colleagues, we must work toward a future where Sudan is back on the path of democracy. Sudan’s political future belongs to the Sudanese people. And we support members of civil society, professional and labor unions, resistance committees, women and youth organizations as they heroically work to meet emergency needs, push for peace, resume the stalled democratic transition – so that freedom, peace, and justice in Sudan can be realized.
At this perilous moment, this body must speak out unequivocally – with one voice – in the name of peace. We should never give into forces that want to stop this Council from addressing matters of international peace and security. In the words of the late Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor and human rights activist, he said, “Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”
We must all urge the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces to end the bloodshed and end the suffering of the Sudanese people. There is no acceptable military solution to this conflict. And peace cannot wait another day.