Statement at the UNSC Briefing on UNISFA
Statement27 October 2022
I would like to join others and thank Assistant Secretary General Pobee and Special Envoy Tetteh for your briefings. I would also like to welcome the representatives of Sudan and South Sudan to the chamber.
The humanitarian situation in Abyei is being worsened by frequent outbreaks of violence and insecurity and the ongoing challenge of sexual and gender-based violence. Conditions are further exacerbated by the impact of flooding and other climate related issues and the global food crisis. These circumstances make it all the more urgent for Sudan and South Sudan to redouble efforts to find a mutually agreed solution for Abyei.
We cannot let this become a forgotten crisis. The people of Abyei need access to state services. They deserve justice, security, and the opportunity for economic development. And it beyond time for the governments of Sudan and South Sudan to live up to their responsibilities. We are encouraged by the indications from the Co-Chairs of the Abyei Joint Oversight Committee (AJOC) that they are ready to meet.
There are no short cuts to lasting peace. Nevertheless, we are encouraged by the leadership of the African Union and their commitment to support the parties and communities on the ground to find a lasting resolution. In particular, we are impressed by the AU’s plans to actively engage with local communities to help tackle the root causes of the conflict and to appoint a facilitator for the Abyei Joint Oversight Committee (AJOC).
Ireland welcomes the UNISFA-supported Traditional Leaders’ Dialogue that took place earlier this year. This can be a platform to be built upon and should be accompanied by a commitment to refrain from violence, including during the upcoming dry season.
We also welcome the efforts of the mission and the South Sudanese authorities to forge peace between the Ngok Dinka and Twic Dinka. It is critically important that all dialogue efforts benefit from the full and unhindered participation of women, and the inclusion of youth, both are key to inclusive and sustainable peace. We further welcome the inaugural opening of a pilot gender desk referral pathway for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence in Abyei in June.
Ireland welcomes the progress made in the reconfiguration of UNISFA to a multinational force and the mission’s increased engagement with communities. While some operational issues still need to be resolved the rapid progress on reconfiguration is laudable.
Ireland calls once more on both Sudan and South Sudan to address outstanding operational issues such as the issuance of visas and access to Athony airstrip. Sudan, for example, has been unable to facilitate the deployment of critical mission personnel. This leaves the mission with just 50 police personnel, a fraction of the 640 that this Council has authorised.
The progress achieved on the reconfiguration has taken place despite continued attacks on peacekeepers. We were very disturbed by ASG Pobees report of the use of rockets and grenades against peacekeepers. Ireland condemns all such attacks. We commend the bravery and sacrifices of the UNISFA troops and call for them to be protected. We appreciate the efforts of the mission to continue to foster positive relations with local communities and to address their concerns.
Ireland remains concerned that the Joint Border Verification Monitoring Mechanism does not have access to all areas under its mandate. While there have been some welcome positive signals, we call on South Sudan to help deliver concrete progress on the ground.
Ireland looks forward to engaging in the upcoming mandate renewal. The renewal should support the recent mission configuration and allow adequate time to consolidate the progress already made.
This is the last scheduled meeting on UNISFA during our current Council term. It is disappointing that we have seen only marginal progress towards a comprehensive political agreement on the final status of Abyei. I again call for all parties to find a peaceful and lasting solution to the final status of Abyei and the demarcation of the border. The people of Abyei deserve no less.