"The people of South Sudan continue to risk their lives to flee the violence in their country"
Statement by Ambassador Peter Wilson, UK Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations, on South Sudan.
Thank you Mr. President,
The United Kingdom welcomes the adoption of resolution 2327 today renewing the mandate of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan.
It is a vital mission, one that is carrying out perhaps our most important role: protecting civilians when they need it most. I want to pay tribute to the brave men and women that make up this peacekeeping force as they undertake their duty in one of the world’s most dangerous environments.
In many ways, they are charged with, let’s be frank, an impossible task: peacekeeping where there is no peace to keep. Some point to progress on the ground. That is not what I see. Last month we heard from Adama Dieng that violence is ongoing and at risk of dangerously escalating along ethnic lines. Despite statements from the government, the people of South Sudan continue to risk their lives to flee the violence in their country, with over 7,000 refugees arriving in Uganda alone in the second week of December.
So the work of UNMISS matters, and it is painfully clear that it has much more to do.
The United Kingdom calls on all South Sudanese leaders to end the violence. All parties must genuinely engage in an inclusive political solution. We have been waiting far too long to see meaningful action from leaders in Juba. We’ve heard the government’s statements; it says it is pursuing peace; it says it is agreeing to the deployment of the Regional Protection Force; and it claims it will allow UNMISS to fulfil its mandate. We must now see this in their actions, and not just words.
We call on our partners in the region to support the United Nations’ efforts in South Sudan. This conflict does not stop at its borders, a fact that South Sudan’s neighbours are the ones who know it the best of all. They are now playing host to over a million refugees. For peace to take root, we need to ensure that the United Nations is acting in cooperation with the African Union and IGAD. We’re all pressing for the same ultimate end.
The people of South Sudan can no longer afford empty promises. They are the ones who are paying the highest price for this war and they are paying for it with their lives and with their livelihoods.
If the government continues its track record of failing to deliver peace, we can and we must act. Everyone around this table knows that we do have tools. These include sanctions and they include an arms embargo. The United Kingdom believes that these are tools that should be used to save lives. We believe it’s critical that this is linked to actions that undermine the ceasefire and result in widespread violence. The government must not impede the RPF, but they must also understand that continued disregard for their citizens will not be tolerated by the Council. We wanted this to be explicit in the text, so I am being very explicit now.