The United States is deeply concerned by the deaths of four United Nations peacekeepers whose vehicles struck and detonated a land mine in the Abyei region this week, and by the Government of Sudan’s response to this incident. We offer our deepest condolences to the families of the fallen, to the people of Ethiopia and to the United Nations.
We are alarmed by reports that the Government of Sudan delayed granting the necessary flight clearances to allow the expeditious medical evacuation of the injured peacekeepers and threatened to shoot down any UN helicopter that attempted to access the area without approval. Three wounded soldiers died during this unnecessary delay. The United States is committed to ensuring that the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) has the political support to carry out its important and difficult mandate under challenging circumstances and strongly condemns the Government of Sudan’s non-compliance with its obligation and its obstruction of the work of the United Nations.
This tragic incident also underscores the importance of establishing peace and security in Abyei, and between Sudan and South Sudan. We urge the Governments of Sudan and South Sudan to fulfill their agreement to withdraw their forces immediately from the Abyei area, and to allow full and unrestricted access to UNISFA personnel.