The Security Council today expanded the mandate of the United Nations peacekeeping force for the Abyei area, which is contested by South Sudan and Sudan, to include, among other tasks, assisting the two parties to abide by and implement their agreements on the demilitarization of the area.
In a resolution, the Council decided that the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) will support the two sides in the operational activities of the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism (JBVMM), including carrying out verifications, investigations, monitoring, arbitrations, liaison coordinating, reporting, information exchange, patrols and security.
UNISFA will also assist and advise the JBVMM in its overall planning and verification of the implementation of the so-called joint position paper on border security that was agreed upon in May.
The mission will be charged with assisting the JBVMM to maintain the geographical and mapping references to be used for the monitoring of the implementation the Agreement on Border Security and the Joint Political and Security Mechanism reached on 29 June.
The Council also authorized UNISFA to facilitate liaison between the parties, support them, when requested, in developing effective bilateral management mechanisms along the border and help them to build mutual trust. It requested South Sudan and Sudan to fully implement their commitments under their previous agreements on Abyei.
The Council called upon Member States, particularly Sudan and South Sudan, “to ensure the free, unhindered and expeditious movement to and from Abyei and throughout the Safe Demilitarized Border Zone of all personnel, as well as equipment, provisions, supplies and other goods, including vehicles, aircraft and spare parts, which are for the exclusive and official use of UNISFA.”
UNISFA’s additional tasks shall be carried out within its authorized capabilities and within an expanded operational area that includes the Safe Demilitarized Border Zone, JBVMM headquarters, sector headquarters and team sites, according to the resolution.
The 15-member UN body also urged Sudan and South Sudan to cooperate fully with each other and provide full support to UNISFA, enabling it to fully implement its mandate, and requested the Secretary-General to keep it informed of progress in implementing UNISFA’S additional tasks and to bring to its attention any serious violations of agreements.
The Council established 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 independent after seceding from Sudan.
Last week, the 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 under the demilitarization pact reached in June.