Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on Sudan and South Sudan

Ambassador Michele J. Sison
U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
May 24, 2017


Thank you, Special Representative Shearer, for your briefing today. It is always good to hear from you, although your report is indeed sobering.

Two thousand, eight hundred. That is the average number of South Sudanese fleeing to neighboring countries each day.

Ninety. That is the number of incidents and restrictions to delivery of humanitarian assistance reported for the month of April, and the highest such number of any month this year to date.

One hundred. That is the number of aid workers forced to relocate during the month of April 2017 as a result of active hostilities.

Eighty-four. That is the total number of aid workers killed in South Sudan since the beginning of the conflict – 17 this year alone – making South Sudan the most dangerous place in the world to be a humanitarian worker.

Unknown is the number of women and girls who have been raped this year as part of this senseless war, or as a so-called “tax,” as they say, for leaving the country to seek refuge.

The government announced a unilateral ceasefire on May 22, two months after it promised IGAD it would do so, and only after pursuing offensives in multiple locations in South Sudan before the onset of the rainy season. We have also seen no end to the obstacles and threats UNMISS faces when carrying out its mandate, including most recently during violence on the west bank of the Nile River when trying to access vulnerable populations and during the attack SRSG Shearer just briefed us on, on the UNMISS base in Leer this month.

UNMISS needs access when civilians are in need of protection and not just once the fighting has stopped and all the civilians have fled. From this, we can only conclude that the parties continue to have no intention of taking seriously the steps outlined in the Council’s March 23 Presidential Statement.

We condemn the recent military campaigns by South Sudanese government forces, designed to disproportionately retaliate along ethnic lines and seize territory to gain a strategic advantage. We also deplore the violence instigated by those in opposition, which only exacerbates the situation further and perpetuates this vicious cycle.

Once again, we call on all parties to stop the violence, return to the negotiating table, and allow UNMISS and humanitarian aid organizations unhindered access. We commend UNMISS’s tenacity in carrying out its mandate to protect civilians, enable the delivery of urgently needed humanitarian assistance, and deploy the initial elements of the Regional Protection Force.

The only way to achieve a lasting solution to the conflict in South Sudan and put an end to the suffering it has caused is through an inclusive political process led by the South Sudanese themselves. We call on the UN, African Union, and regional partners to closely coordinate their efforts to reinvigorate this process and to chart a clear plan for the way forward.

Last month we called on this Council to move forward with the tools at our disposal, such as further sanctions and an arms embargo. Since then, more people have suffered, more women and children have been raped, and tens of thousands more have been displaced because of the fighting.

Today we voted to extend the existing sanctions measures on South Sudan. Now we need to back up our words with concrete action. We will continue to dialogue with Council members and regional and international partners to build support for additional measures to stem the violence in South Sudan, including sexual violence, and return the parties to the negotiating table. The terrible cost of failing to act will continue to be borne by the South Sudanese people, and it will only increase over time.

I urge Council members to use the tools at our disposal as soon as possible and to take action to stop the suffering.

Thank you.