Thank you, President, and thank you to Special Envoy Parfait Onanga-Anyanga for his insightful briefing.
We feel it appropriate also on this occasion to state again that we are deeply alarmed by the current situation in Sudan, where the gains made in the transition are now at serious risk.
Norway also remains deeply concerned about the relocation of UNISFA from Gok Machar - as well as the violation of the Status of Forces Agreement in connection with the serious incidents in September. We acknowledge the press statement by the South Sudanese MFA of 19 October, and encourage South Sudan to urgently engage with the local communities in Gok Machar to address, and resolve, misunderstandings about the role of UNISFA and the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism (JBVMM).
President, let me add three points to today’s discussion on UNISFA and the situation in Abyei:
First, Abyei is a contested area with a very troubled past. There is no doubt that UNISFA plays an invaluable role in providing security and stability. Including their ongoing efforts in building dialogue and trust between the Ngok Dinka and Misseriya communities, ahead of the joint peace conference later this month. We strongly encourage the continued engagement by UNISFA in supporting women-led peace initiatives, as they form an integral part of the grassroots peace process.
Second, we welcome the continued strengthening of relations between Sudan and South Sudan. A long-term and sustainable solution to the status of Abyei cannot be found without the political will and courage of the parties. The leaders of Sudan and South Sudan should seize the opportunity of their close and friendly relations to craft an agreement on the final status of Abyei. And any a sustainable solution must also take into the account views of the local populations.
And third, until the parties agree on all pending issues, UNISFA, with its strong and clear mandate, is still needed. And, the implementation of joint mechanisms, as stipulated in the June-2011 agreement, remain important. This will strengthen cooperation, and build trust between the communities on the ground.
We welcome the recent meeting of the Joint Political and Security Mechanism and urge the parties to resume meetings of the Abyei Joint Oversight Committee. Another significant step would be for South Sudan to nominate personnel to the joint police service. Protection of civilians, and the rule of law is the basis for peaceful development. It is also critical that: outstanding visas for the Formed Police Units of UNISFA are issued, that the Athony airstrip is operationalised, and the deployment of a civilian Deputy head of Mission is approved.
We note the Secretary-General’s proposal for a reconfiguration of UNISFA. While we agree that lately there is a realistic opening for joint approaches and a political solution, yet, we believe it is too early to introduce significant changes to the current force deployment and posture.
In conclusion, President, Norway strongly supports the renewal of UNISFA’s mandate. We urge the parties to implement the joint mechanisms. And we call on the leaders of Sudan and South Sudan to redouble their efforts towards an agreement on the final status of Abyei.