FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Mr. President, we welcome the news that the parties have just signed an agreement on temporary administrative and security arrangements for Abyei and the withdrawal of Sudanese Armed Forces. We are encouraged by this news. We greatly appreciate the intensive efforts of former President Thabo Mbeki and the African Union High-level Implementation Panel over the past two weeks to assist the parties in their negotiations. Now comes the crucial task of full and timely implementation.
This Council will closely monitor adherence with its statements and the progress towards rapidly ensuring that the terms of the Addis Agreement are swiftly fulfilled.
We want to underscore the urgency of Ethiopian troops deploying immediately to Abyei as the agreed interim security force, under UN auspices and on the timeline agreed to by the parties. We also thank Prime Minister Meles Zenawi for his extraordinary efforts and commitment to resolve the crisis in Abyei and for his agreement to provide Ethiopian troops. I also want to extend our thanks and gratitude to SRSG Menkerios for his continued and intensive efforts throughout this process.
The United States will soon circulate a draft Security Council Resolution for Council consideration to authorize creation of this proposed Interim Security Force for Abyei.
Unfortunately, the situation in Abyei is by no means the only crisis facing the people of Sudan. We are less than three weeks away from the independence of South Sudan and the situation in Sudan poses an urgent threat to the safety and security of the Sudanese people as well as a threat to international peace and security that continues to merit this Council’s sustained attention and resolve.
On June 5, violence broke out in multiple areas of Southern Kordofan, including its capital, Kadugli. The reports my government has been receiving of the ongoing fighting are horrifying—both because of the scope of human rights abuses and because of the ethnic dimensions to the conflict. The Sudanese Armed Forces have shelled and bombed the areas around Kadugli. Ongoing and intense aerial bombardments threaten the lives of civilians and UN personnel; a bomb fell just 100 meters from the UNMIS compound in Kauda. The Sudanese Armed Forces have threatened to shoot down UNMIS air patrols.
They have taken control of the airport in Kadugli and refuse landing rights to UNMIS flights, which has continued for so long that UN staff located in the compound and UN teamsites are running dangerously low on food and supplies. UNMIS’s lack of access is alarming and indefensible. UNMIS and humanitarian aid workers must be granted full access, most especially when so many are in need of food, water, and humanitarian aid.
According to the United Nations, more than 360,000 people have been displaced in Sudan over the past 6 months, and more than half were displaced in the past month. As many as 75,000 people have fled the fighting in Southern Kordofan.
International NGOs operating there are evacuating their staff, and a humanitarian crisis of enormous proportions is unfolding. Up to 10,000 people have sought refuge at the UNMIS compound in Kadugli. The United States calls on both parties to facilitate access for UNMIS and humanitarian aid workers.
We are also concerned that the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army has deployed north of the 01/01/56 border into Southern Kordofan in violation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
Mr. President, we have also received reports that forces aligned with the Government of Sudan searched for Southern forces and sympathizers, whom they arrested and allegedly executed. We have received further allegations, not yet corroborated, but so alarming that I must mention them, that the Sudanese Armed Forces are arming elements of the local population and placing mines in areas of Kadugli. The United States condemns all acts of violence, especially those that target individuals based on their ethnicity or political affiliation. Security services and military forces have reportedly detained and summarily executed local authorities, political rivals, medical personnel, and others. These acts could constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity.
We demand that the perpetrators immediately halt these actions and be held accountable for their crimes. We call on the UN to fully investigate these incidents, and request a report from the Secretary General to the Council by the end of June that details any human rights abuses that were committed during recent hostilities in Abyei and Southern Kordofan. We are deeply concerned by reports that members of the Southern* People’s Liberation Army have threatened the safety of persons of Arab origin in Southern Kordofan, including UN staff, and we insist that the Sudan People’s Liberation Army leadership condemn these actions and refrain from any reprisals.
Mr. President, the Government of Sudan can prevent this crisis from escalating further by immediately stopping its military efforts to disarm the Sudan People's Liberation Army in Southern Kordofan and by focusing on diplomatic efforts to peacefully resolve the conflict. The Sudanese government should also cease trying to dissolve the Joint/Integrated Units in Southern Kordofan, which were established under the CPA. Security arrangements for Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile States should be agreed upon through direct, high-level negotiations—and not dictated by the use of force.
We call for the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North to agree immediately on a cessation of hostilities and to immediately end restrictions on humanitarian access and UN movements.
It’s essential that violence against civilians and humanitarian abuses stop and stop now. The United States calls upon both parties to end the conflict and resolve the underlying issues in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile as they are now beginning to do in Abyei.
Finally, we want to underscore the imperative of timely and candid assessments for the Council about the evolving situation, for which we crucially depend on the Secretariat. This is essential for us to be able to determine and take actions necessary to ensure that the UN can carry out its mission. Contingents unwilling to carry out their mandate to protect civilians should not be part of this crucial mission. Contingents under attack also need our backup and support. With the failure of their government to live up to its responsibilities, the Sudanese people have turned to the international community for protection, and we have an obligation to provide it.
Thank you, Mr. President.
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