I would like to join my colleagues in thanking Under-Secretary-General Lacroix and Special Envoy Tetteh for their presentations. I also welcome the presence of the representatives of Sudan and South Sudan at this meeting.
As the Secretary-General points out in his report - and as we have just heard today - the conflict in Sudan is having a worrying impact on the situation in Abyei. It has put an end to the constructive momentum towards a resolution of the dispute over the region that prevailed at the beginning of the year, and is worsening an already critical humanitarian and security situation. Added to this - and we have heard it too - are the confrontations between the Twic Dinka and Ngok Dinka on either side of the southern border, which have increased again in recent weeks. All this is affecting the implementation of the mandate of the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei.
Given the risk of increased instability, I would like to emphasise three points:
First, more needs to be done to protect the population from armed incidents and to mitigate the impact of the arrival of those fleeing the conflict in Sudan as well as of displacement resulting from inter-communal tensions. In this respect, we congratulate the Misseriya and Ngok Dinka for the Conference on transhumance corridors in Noong, and encourage them to continue this positive dynamic. In the absence of the Abyei Police Service, the community protection committees and the joint protection committee are essential for promoting the rule of law and maintaining an early warning system. We welcome the support provided by UNIFSA in this regard, and reiterate our call to the Sudanese authorities to facilitate the full deployment of the mandated police capacity. Furthermore, the presence of security forces from both countries and the proliferation of weapons continue to give us cause for concern: Abyei must remain a demilitarised zone, as requested by this Council.
Secondly, promoting an inclusive peace is fundamental in the current circumstances. It is therefore important to continue to invest in a climate of trust and to strengthen an inclusive community commitment. We welcome the active role played by women, whether through consultative forums, joint peace committees in the Amiet region or as human rights defenders. Similarly, the increased involvement of youth networks in the dissemination of early warnings demonstrates the key potential of young people as agents of peace. We fully support the efforts of the UN Country Teams in Sudan and South Sudan to operationalize the joint Abyei program, despite the difficulties, particularly in northern Abyei. This is all the more important as economic activities and the supply of goods from the North are disrupted. In addition, we call on all parties to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law, including allowing and facilitating the rapid and unhindered passage of humanitarian relief supplies.
Thirdly, UNSIF plays a key role in ensuring peace and security in Abyei. We welcome its key commitment to the protection of civilians and the operational flexibility it demonstrates in response to the evolving situation on the ground. We look forward to greater acceptance of the force through the multinational contingent. Because of the conflict, its reconfiguration has been delayed. Only at full operational capability would UNIFSA be sufficiently mobile, agile and responsive in this difficult context. In this respect, we call on Sudan and South Sudan to continue to respect the status of forces agreement. This includes ensuring that UNIFSA and the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism can continue to move freely and operate in safe and secure conditions.
In view of the increasingly difficult conditions, we reiterate our full support for the work of UNIFSA, the Special Envoy, the African Union and IGAD. Switzerland will remain committed to working with all stakeholders to achieve peace and prosperity in Abyei.