Remarks by Ambassador Robert Wood at a UN Security Council Briefing on UNISFA for Abyei

Ambassador Robert Wood
Alternative Representative for Special Political Affairs
New York, New York
October 27, 2022


Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you Assistant-Secretary-General Pobee and Special Envoy Tetteh for sharing UNISFA’s progress on mandate implementation and your updates on Abyei.

The United States deeply appreciates UNISFA’s tireless efforts to implement its mandated tasks to protect civilians and facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid throughout its troop reconfiguration and in the face of unprecedented challenges.

In line with the Secretary-General’s recommendation in his October 13 report, we support a one-year extension of UNISFA’s mandate. We hope the Secretary-General’s recommendation will receive the Council’s support as well. A one-year mandate would allow UNISFA to complete its troop reconfiguration and give the mission adequate time to receive visas, identify key stakeholders, and develop essential relationships required for the mission to implement its mandate.

We also continue to urge Sudan and South Sudan to facilitate the smooth functioning of all UNISFA bases and JBVMM team sites and provide full support for UNISFA in the implementation of its mandate.

The United States is gravely concerned about the reemergence of deadly violence between Dinka communities. Over twenty civilians have been killed and thousands of civilians remain forcibly displaced following destruction of their property and homes. We condemn these acts of violence and urgently call on the two governments to intensify their efforts to end these violent clashes. Similarly, we call on both governments to do their utmost to prevent seasonal clashes among local communities.

Given that Abyei continues to lack UN police and a joint police service, Abyei likely will continue to experience violent clashes and criminality. The formation of joint security and administration institutions, issuance of visas for UN police, and the deployment of a civilian deputy would allow for greater non-military approaches to mitigate conflict and build peace among communities. We again strongly urge Sudan to issue visas for UN police in a timely manner, allow for the appointment of a civilian deputy head of UNISFA and allow UNISFA the use of Athony airfield. Finally, we ask both Sudan and South Sudan to make progress toward the establishment of the Abyei Joint Police Service, a critical tool in quelling violence in Abyei.

These political impasses, which span over the last eleven years, remain a great disappointment because the people of Abyei continue to suffer violence, mass displacement, and lack of basic needs and humanitarian aid. We reiterate our call upon the parties to renew diplomatic engagement to achieve a peaceful and mutually acceptable resolution to Abyei’s final status and to participate in the Joint Political and Security Mechanism and the Abyei Joint Oversight Committee meetings.

We welcome the announcement of an agreement on October 24 and no implementation of its commitments could be essential in bringing peace and security to the people of Abyei. We look forward to more information on their specific plans and detail on which institutions and mechanisms will be activated, and plans for discussion on a final status.

We commend and support the African Union Peace and Security Council’s September 29 communique that appealed for Sudan and South Sudan to hasten their efforts to establish joint institutions and strongly encourage the AU to intensify these engagements to make progress towards a solution in Abyei.

Lastly, we continue to encourage UNISFA initiatives to support community dialogue aimed to strengthen inter-communal relationships that promote and facilitate stability in the Abyei area and stress the importance of women’s full, equal, and meaningful participation in these processes. We encourage UNISFA to carry on its efforts to protect women and children from violence, particularly sexual and gender-based violence. The United States also calls on UNISFA to provide more fulsome mission activity reporting focused on UNISFA’s effectiveness and qualitative measures in implementing its mandate.

We reiterate our commitment to work with the Governments of Sudan and South Sudan and the people in the region, our fellow Council members, the African Union, and other international and regional partners to work towards peace, security, and prosperity of the region. Thank you, Mr. President.