Today, the Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution that not only renews the mandate for the UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), but focuses the mission on the core activities of protecting of civilians; monitoring and investigating human rights abuses; and facilitating the delivery of humanitarian assistance. Today’s resolution also locks in the increased troop levels that the Council authorized as a temporary measure for UNMISS in December.
We welcome the willingness of countries from the East African regional organization, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), to contribute a regional force to UNMISS as part of the new troop complement, as well as its continued leadership as mediators of the political process, including through Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn’s work as IGAD Chair. This troop contribution will be vital to supporting the new UNMISS mandate and to providing protection to the personnel from IGAD’s Monitoring and Verification Mission who are monitoring the Cessation of Hostilities agreement signed on January 23.
Streamlining UNMISS’s activities means focusing the mission on the needs of the people of South Sudan. The escalating ethnic violence that broke out in December and gave rise to horrible attacks like those last month in Bentiu and Bor, along with the absence of a credible peace agreement, demanded that this Council prioritize the safety and well-being of the South Sudanese people first and foremost, and that UNMISS no longer provide direct support to the government. However, the UN’s commitment to the people of South Sudan remains steadfast, and UNMISS remains a force for security and accountability in the country.
South Sudan teeters on the verge of total chaos. A possible famine looms on the horizon. As a result of the violence, more than 1.3 million people have been displaced from their homes, including over 370,000 refugees who have fled to neighboring countries. Farmers have been unable to plant and tend their crops. For South Sudan, which was already a food-insecure country, the missed planting season promises only a bitter harvest of severe malnutrition and starvation. The United States has provided over $433 million this fiscal year in humanitarian assistance, including a new assistance package of nearly $300 million the United States announced at the pledging conference in Oslo on May 20. We urge everyone who promised assistance in Oslo to fulfill their pledges as quickly as possible.
No amount of humanitarian assistance, however, will bring lasting peace to South Sudan. The desperately needed political solution to this man-made crisis must begin with the country’s political leaders. President Salva Kiir and former vice president Riek Machar have continually failed to implement the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement they signed in January, and recommitted to personally in Addis Ababa on May 9. They bear the greatest responsibility for the surge of violence and economic instability. It is up to them to look beyond their narrow political interests and embrace a fully inclusive national dialogue aimed at building a lasting peace. The people of South Sudan deserve nothing less.
- Source: U.S. Mission to the UN in New York