U.S. Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Ambassador Mike Hammer Remarks for IGAD Summit on Ethiopia-Somalia and Sudan

               U.S. Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Ambassador Mike Hammer Remarks for IGAD Summit on Ethiopia-Somalia and Sudan

As delivered

January 18, 2024    

Good afternoon, I bring greetings from President Biden and Secretary
Blinken. We thank you for again inviting the United States to address this key
group of leaders. Thank you in particular to our host – President Museveni
and the Ugandan people for their hospitality, also to President Guelleh as
Chair of IGAD, President Ruto for his work leading the Quartet on Sudan and
to Dr. Workneh and his team for bringing us together. Also, we very much
appreciate our close partnership with Chairperson Faki and the African Union
as we support your efforts to advance peace and stability on the continent by
promoting African solutions to African problems.

Last month on December 9 in Djibouti, IGAD met and we discussed how to
bring about an end to the war in Sudan, and let me reiterate that the United
States remains committed to working with IGAD to do so.

Today’s meeting also addresses how to lessen tensions following the
announcement of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Ethiopia
and Somaliland. We are troubled by what is reportedly included in the MOU.
We join the chorus of voices in the region and internationally affirming our
respect for Somalia’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and political
independence consistent with the UN Charter and the Constitutive Act of the
African Union, which Chairperson Faki just referred to as “sacrosanct.” We
also welcome the AU PSC communique of yesterday in this regard.

As we have repeatedly said, the United States recognizes the Federal Republic
of Somalia’s sovereignty, unity, and territorial integrity, which includes
Somaliland. We believe the status of Somaliland is an issue for Somalis,
including Somalilanders, to decide.

We are particularly concerned that the increase in tensions over the MOU
threatens to disrupt the fight that Somalis, along with Africans and regional
and international partners – including the United States – are waging against
al-Shabaab. We have already seen troubling indications that al-Shabaab is
using the MOU to generate new recruits. It is vital for Ethiopia and Somalia to
remain focused on this shared security priority. We urge both sides to avoid
precipitous actions, including related to existing Ethiopian force deployments
in Somalia, that could create opportunities for al-Shabaab to expand its reach
within Somalia and into Ethiopia.
The Government of Ethiopia has cooperated with the governments in Somalia
and the Somaliland region for many years, and it is essential that continues.
We believe that amid ongoing security and stability concerns throughout the
Horn of Africa, it is critical for governments in the region to maintain working
relationships and close dialogue with each other to address shared challenges.
The region can ill afford further conflict.

The United States also welcomes IGAD’s efforts today to address the
deepening crisis in Sudan. This summit provides another opportunity for us
all – IGAD, the AU and all concerned states – to call for the SAF and RSF to
immediately end the fighting; adhere to their obligations under international
humanitarian law and respect human rights; and allow unhindered
humanitarian access to meet the emergency needs of civilians. It is time for
them to take action consistent with their stated claims that they want to stop
the fighting and meet the needs of the Sudanese people.
We regret that SAF and RSF have so far failed to fulfil their December 9
commitment to an unconditional ceasefire and face-to-face meeting. It is high
time that Generals Burhan and Hemedti deliver on their word, their promises,
their commitments made to IGAD and at Jeddah. They will be responsible for
the break up of Sudan if this conflict continues.
I must stress that we are deeply concerned about recent RSF offensives in
Gezira state and elsewhere, where there have been credible reports of attacks
on civilians, including rape and other human rights violations, and looting of
humanitarian supplies. We are also concerned by reports of SAF aerial
bombings of populated areas in Nyala, Khartoum, and Gezira state, resulting in
civilian deaths.

There is no acceptable military solution to the conflict in Sudan. As the
Sudanese people have long demanded, the conflict must end, and Sudan’s
governance must return to civilians. Civilians must decide the future of
Sudan, and we welcome efforts including by Taqaddum, to form an inclusive
and broadly representative pro-democracy front. We urge continued work to
further diversify such a front, including bringing in more representatives from
Sudan’s various regions, women, and youth.

We look forward to continued cooperation with IGAD and its leaders as well
as other international partners, in restoring Sudan’s democratic transition.
Thank you again for the opportunity to participate in today’s Summit. The
United States firmly believes diplomatic engagement is the only way to
resolve these challenges, and we appreciate your partnership in advancing the
peace, prosperity, and stability the people in the region desire and deserve.

Thank you.