The United Nations Security Council today extended for another five months its interim peacekeeping force in Abyei, a resource-rich area contested by Sudan and South Sudan, calling on both sides to swiftly resume regular meetings to resolve the oil-rich territory’s final status.
“Continued cooperation between the Government of Sudan and Government of South Sudan is also critical for peace, security and stability and the future relations between them,” the 15-member body said in a resolution, authorizing until 15 may, 2016, the 4,500-strong UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA).
The force, set up by the Council in June 2011 after the outbreak of violence when Sudanese troops took control of the area shortly before South Sudan became independent, is entrusted with overseeing demilitarization and maintaining security, and the Council today called for a resumption of border demarcation discussions.
Noting that some 90,000 people still depend on humanitarian aid, it stressed the urgency of facilitating aid delivery to all affected populations, and demanded that all parties allow all humanitarian personnel full, safe and unhindered access to civilians.
It underscored that UNISFA’s protection of civilians mandate includes taking necessary actions to protect civilians under imminent threat of physical violence, irrespective of the source of such violence.
It condemned the intermittent presence of security forces from both sides in Abyei and reaffirmed that UNISFA may undertake weapons confiscation and destruction, voicing “grave concern at the threat to peace and security in Abyei arising from the illicit transfer, destabilizing accumulation and misuse of small arms and light weapons.”