Remarks by U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See Callista Gingrich on the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan

Remarks by U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See Callista Gingrich

Pontifical University of the Urbaniana

January 18, 2018

Good afternoon. I’d like to thank Cardinal Turkson for the opportunity to be with you today.

Thanks as well to Solidarity with South Sudan; the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission; the Union of Superiors General; and the International Union of Superiors General for organizing this important roundtable dialogue.

I greatly appreciate your hard work and tireless pursuit of peace. Today’s gathering will help foster human rights, solidarity, reconciliation, and justice.

I also want to commend the Catholic Church for supporting civil society, fighting for justice, and working for a mediated solution through dialogue.

The fearless leadership of the Church to advance peace, justice, and prosperity in both the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan is an inspiration to the world.

However, as Cardinal Turkson stressed to me last week, societies cannot be developed without security. Children cannot be educated when they are hungry or forced into militias. Communities cannot be fed when aid workers and farmers are attacked.

Businesses cannot be sustained when societies are plagued by corruption and kleptocracy. And the rights of women cannot be guaranteed when sexual violence is commonplace.

The United States is actively engaged in supporting democracy, human rights, and the rule of law in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan.

We, along with the rest of the world, were shocked when peaceful protests, organized by the Catholic Church, were violently repressed by the DRC’s security forces on December 31st.

This suppression and violence has galvanized the international community to ensure the implementation of the December 2016 Saint Sylvestre Accords.

Nikki Haley, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, recently said, “President Kabila must hold his security forces accountable; respect the human rights of his citizens; and follow through with his commitment to step down — in accordance with the DRC’s Constitution, following credible elections in December 2018.”

As the DRC’s largest bilateral donor; the United States will continue to support the Congolese and their efforts to build a better future. We will also continue to support the United Nations Stabilization Force in the DRC (MONUSCO).

In South Sudan, this man-made conflict has had a devastating effect on the people. Since 2013, the United States has been the largest donor of humanitarian aid — delivering $2.9 billion in emergency humanitarian assistance to the people of South Sudan and to the refugees in neighboring States.

The United States is closely watching the South Sudan ceasefire, signed in December of 2017.

Our position is clear. The government of South Sudan must provide free, unhindered and safe access for humanitarian organizations.

With our international partners, we are calling on all parties to put down their weapons and to negotiate a permanent end to this conflict.

It’s time that the people of South Sudan experience the peace and prosperity they deserve.

Civil society has a vital role to play to hold these governments accountable. This is critical to the advancement of peace, justice and prosperity in the DRC and South Sudan.

I assure you, that you have the full support of the United States.

Thank you for the opportunity to be with you. May God bless you and the people of the DRC and South Sudan.