Thank you, President. Let me join others in congratulating Malta for their successful Presidency in February and wishing you the best for yours in March.
Thank you also to SRSG Haysom and to our briefers for their updates. I also welcome the presence of the Permanent Representative of South Sudan in our meeting today.
First, I would like to echo the messages delivered by the Pope, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Moderator of the Church of Scotland during their historic visit to South Sudan.
The UK endorses their calls on the Government of South Sudan to stop violence, end corruption, and deliver basic services for the South Sudanese people.
Recent legislative steps, such as progress on the Constitution-Making Process Bill and the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority, are welcome.
The key is now to implement such laws. We also call on the Government to take immediate steps to reconstitute the Political Parties Council and adopt The National Elections Act, among other urgent tasks. We echo SRSG Haysom’s message that 2023 needs to be the year that the South Sudanese Government delivers for its people.
Second, I would like to note our concerns about the escalation of subnational conflict across South Sudan.
The Church leaders were clear that failure to implement the peace agreement is driving subnational conflict and humanitarian suffering.
Violence has caused significant loss of life, displaced thousands of civilians, and led to large-scale abductions of women and children.
The United Kingdom commends UNMISS’s continued efforts to protect civilians under such challenging circumstances.
We are therefore deeply concerned by reports of intimidation of UN peacekeepers and UNMISS personnel by armed groups across the country.
We call upon the South Sudanese authorities to respect the SOFA and where necessary ensure thorough investigations take place to ensure accountability.
Third, we reiterate our call for the South Sudanese Government to remove all constraints on humanitarian access, and to act urgently to address ongoing theft of humanitarian resources. It is imperative that safe, unimpeded help can reach the most vulnerable, including those along the River Nile.
In closing, President, the United Kingdom remains committed to the South Sudanese people’s quest for peace, prosperity and democracy. The leadership must now deliver real change to that end.