Security Council extends mandate of Abyei peacekeeping force for five months

The disputed town of Abyei was the scene of renewed violence in May 2011 after Sudanese Government forces took over the area. UN Photo/Stuart Price

22 December 2011 – The Security Council today extended by five months the mandate the United Nations peacekeeping force for the Abyei area, which is contested by South Sudan and Sudan, stressing that the mission’s ability to do its work effectively will depend on the implementation by the two countries of earlier agreements.

The Council established the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) on 27 June for an initial six months, following an outbreak of violence after Sudanese troops took control of the area, displacing tens of thousands of people in the weeks before South Sudan became an independent State after seceding from Sudan.

In today’s resolution, the Council demanded that both governments withdraw all remaining military and police personnel from the Abyei area immediately and without preconditions, and urgently finalize the establishment of the Abyei Area Administration and the Abyei Police Service, as agreed on 20 June.

The 15-member Council urged the two governments to make use of the Joint Political and Security Mechanism to resolve outstanding issues related to finalization of the Safe Demilitarized Border Zone, the resolution of disputed border areas, border demarcation, and the mapping of the border zone.

It also called on all Member States, particularly the two parties to the Abyei dispute, to ensure free, unhindered and quick movement to and from Abyei and throughout the Safe Demilitarized Border Zone of all UNISFA personnel, equipment and other supplies, including vehicles, aircraft and spare parts, which are for the exclusive use of the peacekeepers.

The resolution requested both governments to fulfil their commitment under their 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement to peacefully resolve the final status of Abyei.

The Council also urged all concerned parties to allow relief workers safe and unhindered access to civilians in need of assistance, in accordance with international humanitarian law. It requested the Secretary-General to ensure that effective human rights monitoring is carried out in Abyei and the results included in his reports to the Council.

Last week, the Council expanded UNISFA’s mandate to include, among other tasks, assisting the two parties to abide by and implement their agreements on the demilitarization of Abyei.

Earlier this month, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous told the Council that the security situation in Abyei remains fragile, with both South Sudan and Sudan failing to withdraw their armed forces as agreed in June.

Similarly, despite significant efforts by an African Union panel and Haile Menkerios, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Sudan and Southern Sudan, little progress has been made in establishing temporary administrative arrangements for Abyei, Mr. Ladsous said.

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Security Council expands mandate of UN peacekeeping force in Abyei

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