Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has welcomed the signing of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) for the United Nations peacekeeping force for Abyei – tasked with overseeing the demilitarization of the area, which is contested by Sudan and South Sudan, and maintaining security.
The agreement was signed by the Government of Sudan on 1 October 2012 and by the Government of South Sudan yesterday.
The Security Council established the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) in June 2011 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.
“The signature of the SOFA should help improve the discharge of UNISFA's mandate in its area of operations, including the freedom of movements of its personnel and assets in both countries,” said a statement issued by Mr. Ban's spokesperson.
Last week the Council extended until 31 May 2013 the mandate of UNISFA, which is authorized to use force in protecting civilians and humanitarian workers in Abyei.
The final status of Abyei, which straddles the border between the two countries, has yet to be determined – one of the outstanding issues of the so-called Comprehensive Peace Agreement which helped to end the long-running civil war between Sudan and South Sudan.