Security Council extends mandate of UN Abyei force
The United Nations Security Council on Thursday decided to extend the mandate of the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) until 15 May 2020, specifying “measurable progress” in border issues needed from Sudan and South Sudan before that date.
Unanimously adopting resolution 2497 (2019), the council also demanded that the governments of Sudan and South Sudan provide full support to UNISFA in the deployment of its personnel, expressing disappointment about continued obstruction from the parties in that regard.
The council maintained the current troop ceiling, however, at 3,550 personnel, deciding to postpone the withdrawal of the additional 295 troops currently on the ground for the full term of the mandate extension.
Also through the text, the council maintained the authorized police ceiling at 640 personnel. The UN's most powerful body expressed concern about delays in reaching full police deployment, it noted in particular that the government of Sudan has not promptly issued visas.
The council also decided to extend until 15 May 2020 UNISFA’s mandate modification that provides support to the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism, adding this shall be the final such extension unless the parties show measurable progress in border discussions, freedom of movement for patrols, withdrawal of forces and other requirements.
The council, through the text, also reiterated its request to the Secretary‑General to appoint a civilian Deputy Head of Mission for UNISFA, requesting a report by 15 April 2020 to include progress on that issue, police deployment and the issuance of visas, as well as progress toward stabilizing the area and settling the border dispute.
Sudan and South Sudan are disputing the oil-rich Abyei, an area inhabited by Misseriya Arab nomads in the north and Ngok Dinka people who are pro-South Sudan.
As a result, Abyei area remains under the administration of the UN interim security force.