|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
6546th Meeting (PM)
Security Council Mission to Africa, in Briefing, Stresses Need for Agreement
on All Outstanding Issues before Southern Sudan’s Expected Separation
Trip’s Leaders Describe Concerns over Abyei,
Humanitarian Situation in Darfur; Somalia’s Institutional Infighting
It was critical for the parties in both North and South Sudan to reach accord on all outstanding issues under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement before the South declared independence on 9 July, the Security Council heard today, as the leaders of its recent mission to Africa briefed members on the visit.
“The crisis in Abyei only reiterates the urgency of this deadline,” said Susan Rice (United States), who led the visits to Khartoum and Juba, capital of Southern Sudan, alongside Vitaly Charmin (Russian Federation). From 19 to 26 May, they had visited the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, for discussions with African Union officials, and Nairobi, Kenya, the mission’s last stop, where Somalia had been discussed. Martin Briens (France) briefed on the Addis Ababa leg, while Mark Lyall Grant (United Kingdom) and Baso Sangqu (South Africa) discussed the Nairobi segment.
Ms. Rice, speaking on behalf of herself and Mr. Churkin, noted that the latest crisis in Abyei had unfolded while the mission was in Khartoum, and that being on the ground had allowed its members to act quickly. They had issued a strong press statement calling for the withdrawal of military forces from Abyei and pressing for a halt to the fighting and the restoration of calm. They had urged both North and South to settle all outstanding issues and find out what an independent South Sudan would need in respect of international assistance.
Meeting with officials in the North, the mission had described as unacceptable the takeover in Abyei by the Sudanese Armed Forces. In respect of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), they had called on the Government to fulfil its commitment to issue all pending visas for its staff. Northern officials had said they would process the visas, in addition to committing themselves to both the Doha peace process and lifting the state of emergency in Darfur. They had also assured the Council mission that the rights of Southerners in the North would be protected, she said, adding that, unfortunately, the Council members had not been able to meet the Foreign Minister.
Ms. Rice said that, in briefings by staff of UNAMID and the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS), the Council members had welcomed the former’s strengthened protection posture, with its increase in patrols, but had found the humanitarian briefing on Darfur “dispiriting”, since very few humanitarian workers remained in the region.
Meeting with former President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, the facilitator of talks between the North and South, the mission had expressed strong support for his work, she said. In areas of the South, the mission had met officials and members of civil society, who had expressed concerns about poverty, insufficient transportation and security, she continued. At all meetings in the UNMIS area of operation, the Mission had stressed the importance of fully implementing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and resolving the issue of Abyei.
She went on to state that several students and other civil society members had requested international help on border issues. They had suggested the creation of a buffer zone between North and South, describing the hardships resulting from the closure of border crossings. The grave problems of internal security, including cattle rustling and the associated abduction of children, had been explained during a visit to a newly-formed livestock security unit, she said. In the wake of the return of nearly 341,000 Southerners from the North, the mission had also visited a returnee camp and spoken with returnees.
Describing the mission’s meeting with the Government of South Sudan in Juba, she said members had again urged the resumption and intensification of dialogue with the North, and deplored the 19 May attack on an UNMIS convoy by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), an incident for which Southern officials had expressed regret. Preliminary discussions had been held regarding the shape of the proposed new United Nations presence in the South following its expected declaration of independence.
Describing the visit to Addis Ababa, Mr. Briens noted that the Council now met annually with the African Union Peace and Security Council, and this year’s meeting on 21 May had been aimed at examining how the two organizations could better work together on matters of international peace and security in Africa. Libya, Côte d’Ivoire, Sudan and Somalia had been the subjects of frank and objective discussions with the purpose of shaping a common strategy, he said, adding that the meeting’s outcome document welcomed the enhanced cooperation between the two bodies.
Mr. Lyall Grant then reported on the Nairobi leg of the mission, saying that the Council members had met on 25 May with officials of Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government, including the President, Prime Minister and Speaker of Parliament. The Council members had urged the Government and Parliament to engage fully, constructively and without further delay in the consultative process led by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Augustine Mahiga. The Council had also underlined the vital importance of ensuring that the progress made by the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and national forces in ensuring stability and security in parts of the country translated into similar progress on the political front.
He went on to say that the Council members had expressed “grave concern” about the impact of discord between Parliament and other Transitional Federal Institutions over the political process, and had urged all sides to reach timely agreement on holding elections. As for the Council’s discussions with representatives from “Puntland” and “ Somaliland”, he said regional security had been a key focus. The representatives had highlighted their efforts to maintain stability, stressing also the threats posed by piracy and terrorism. Finally, representatives of civil society had expressed general concern about the humanitarian situation, and called for a new constitution that would lead to a more inclusive political process, as well as more effective delivery of humanitarian and development assistance.
Mr. Sangqu focused on the mission’s meetings with Kenyan Government officials and, among others, representatives of AMISOM, the United Nations Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS), the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), and the United Nations Support Office for AMISOM (UNSOA). Kenyan officials had described the situation in Somalia as a threat to international and regional peace and security, emphasizing that their country shared a long border with Somalia besides hosting Dadaab, the world’s largest refugee camp. They had also stressed Kenya’s a pivotal role in the prosecution and imprisonment of Somali pirates.
He went on to note that, in light of their concerns, Kenyan officials, including the Vice-President, had reiterated their request for the strengthening of AMISOM troop-levels to 20,000, in addition to asking for greater assistance in the fight against piracy and help with the influx of refugees. Specifically, the Vice-President had emphasized that Somali transitional officials had not taken advantage of improved security in some areas, and in that vein, he had joined calls for and end to the infighting within the Somali Government.
Kenyan officials had also cautioned against “international fatigue”, and urged the Council to ensure that all stakeholders remained involved as Somalia headed into its post-transition phase, Mr. Sangqu said. Finally, the Council members had emerged from their meetings with IGAD and the African Union with a “feeling of consensus” on post-transition Somalia, he added, noting that the meetings had underscored the need for a comprehensive strategy addressing security, humanitarian issues and development in the country.
Today’s s meeting began at 3:15 p.m. and ended at 3:40 p.m.
* *** *For information media • not an official record