Check against delivery.
Let me begin by thanking Mr. Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, for his informative briefing. I also join my colleagues in welcoming Ms. Hannah Tetteh to the Council for her first briefing as the Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa. You can count on our support in this important role. I also welcome the representatives of Sudan and South Sudan to this meeting.
Today’s meeting is taking place against the backdrop of alarming developments in the Abyei Area, including continued inter-communal clashes and violence, attacks against UNISFA, and incidents that have hampered UNISFA’s operations. These developments have negatively impacted the work of humanitarian organizations, especially with the tragic deaths of humanitarian workers and the evacuation of nearly 800 aid workers as a result of the recent clashes in “Agok”. Therefore, it is essential to ensure that all measures are being taken to guarantee safety for humanitarian workers.
Tackling these concerning developments requires efforts to promote dialogue and peaceful co-existence in order to address the root causes of tensions and strengthen community relationships. In this context, we are encouraged by steps taken to address these tensions, including the investigations, and the recent agreement for a cessation of hostilities in South Sudan between two tribes. We also stress in this regard, the importance of establishing temporary administrative and security mechanisms as called for in the 20 June 2011 agreement, signed by both parties, in order to ensure that these tensions are contained.
At the same time, we encourage UNISFA to continue engaging on a regular basis with local communities in order to ensure that their voices are heard. We therefore stress the importance of convening the Joint Traditional Leaders Peace Conference in May. Additionally, we also welcome the Mission efforts, whether it is with the quick-impact projects or ensuring women’s participation in local peace processes and settlements of disputes.
Regarding Sudan-South Sudan relations, we are encouraged that leaders from both countries continue to support each other’s paths towards peace, which also shows the continuous improvement in relations. We are confident that building on this progress will contribute towards reaching a lasting resolution of the final status of Abyei. In addition, we welcome the meeting of the Joint Political and Security Mechanism and its outcome document. We look forward to the resumption of meetings of the Abyei Joint Oversight Committee with the support of the African Union.
We also recognize the important role of UNISFA in a constantly evolving and challenging environment, particularly in facilitating dialogue among communities and in its support for the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism (JBVMM). In this context, we would like to thank all UNISFA personnel who have served in the Mission, and we welcome the new peacekeeping force as well as the Force Commander who has already started his engagement with local communities and the Sudanese and South Sudanese Governments. Additionally, we echo the Secretary-General’s call for the re-operationalization of the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism (JBVMM) Sector One Headquarters in Gok Machar and the two team sites.
To conclude, we welcome the Secretary-General’s recommendation to extend UNISFA’s mandate and support to the JBVMM for an additional period of six months, with the importance of taking into consideration the views of Khartoum and Juba when discussing the mandate renewal, and a renewed focus on engaging with all local communities and utilizing all available tools to reduce tensions.
I thank you, Mr. President.