With recent outbreak of border clashes between Sudan and South Sudan, the United States of America today voiced concern on the deteriorating situation on the border the two states.
On her remarks today at DC, Ambassador Susan E. Rice said the recent withdrawal of the SPLA from Heglig was initially encouraging but has since resulted in increased bombing by Sudanese Armed Forces into South Sudanese territory.
There were several incidents of air strikes this weekend in Unity State’s Mayom, where the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) County Support Base was hit by two bombs. UNMISS is airlifting wounded civilians to a health facility in the State capital, Bentiu. UN Photo/Isaac Billy
UNMISS reports that at least 16 civilians have been killed and 34 injured in Unity State from aerial bombardments, in addition to significant damage to infrastructure.
“We were told there have also been SAF incursions into Unity State.” -Ms. Rice
She says the Security Council members welcomed the withdrawal from Heglig by the SPLA, demanded an immediate halt to aerial bombardments by the Sudanese Armed Forces, and urged an immediate ceasefire and a return to the negotiating table.
Many delegations expressed concern also about reports of extensive damage to oil infrastructure in Heglig, Ms. Rice cited.
The Council also acknowledged the constructive contribution of the African Union Peace and Security Council and its communique adopted earlier today, which will of course inform our consultations on further action, she added.
Ms. Rice noted that several members of the Council mentioned the importance of Sudan and the SPLM-North engaging in a political solution to the problem in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile and the need for urgent humanitarian assistance there.
“In my national capacity, let me just reiterate that the United States welcomes the withdrawal of the SPLA from Heglig.” -Ms. Rice
The United States strongly condemns Sudan’s incursion into South Sudan and in particular its heavy aerial bombardments of civilian areas and infrastructure and we call for the immediate cessation of hostilities, Ms. Rice stressed.
The United States also recognizes the right of South Sudan to defend itself and urge South Sudan to exercise maximal restraint in its reaction to Sudan’s attacks.
Amid the continous call from the United Nations and the United States to cease the hostilities between Sudan and South Sudan, violence and tensions continue to escalate in the region.
Earlier this year, South Sudan’s military involved in the attack on and seizure of Heglig, home to Sudan’s largest remaining source of oil following the South’s secession.
The United States urged the two states to agree to an immediate unconditional cessation of hostilities, withdraw all forces that are deployed across the January 1, 1956 border as recognized by the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2005, and cease all support to armed movements from the other state.
The US government urges both countries to return without delay to the negotiating table under the auspices of the AUHIP and use peaceful means, not military action, to resolve outstanding issues.
As the world leader, the United States further urges the heads of state of both countries to meet in a summit as previously planned in order to advance negotiations on the issues that stand in the way of achieving true peace.
In addition, the African Union in a statement also expressed “grave concern at the escalating armed conflict on the border between Sudan and South Sudan and calls upon both parties to exercise utmost restraint.”
Late of March this year, military clashes have erupted in the border region of Sudan and South Sudan.
Media reports say South Sudan accused Sudan of sending warplanes to bomb two border areas.
Meanwhile, Sudan accused the southern army of attacking the oil-producing Heglig region wherein parts of which are claimed by both warring nations.
The military clashes prompted Sudan’s President Omar Al-Bashir to suspend plans to attend a meeting with his South Sudanese counterpart Salva Kiir on 3 April.
On July 2011, South Sudan, Africa’s 54th nation was born. Millions of people celebrated a new national identity and new national promise. For more than two decades, Sudan has been riven by intense fighting over land and resources.
However, the security situation in the disputed area of Abyei remains fragile, with both South Sudan and Sudan failing to withdraw their armed forces as agreed under a demilitarization pact reached in June 2011.
South Sudan became independent from Sudan on 9 July. A referendum on the status of the Abyei area on the border was to have been held in January this year, but never took place amid disagreement on voter eligibility.
Dozens of people have been killed this year as a result of clashes in Abyei and surrounding areas and tens of thousands of have been forced to flee their homes.