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NEW YORK - 16 Nov 2018

UN Security Council extends UNISFA mandate

An Mi-26 lift cargo helicopter landing in Abyei | Photo | Stuart Price
An Mi-26 lift cargo helicopter landing in Abyei | Photo | Stuart Price

The UN Security Council on Thursday adopted a resolution extending the mandate of the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) until 15 May 2019.

Sudan and South Sudan are disputing the oil-rich Abyei, an area inhabited by Arab Misseriya and Ngok Dinka tribes. UNISFA was established in 2011 at the request of the Sudan and South Sudan governments.

The Council also decided to decrease UNISFA’s authorized troop ceiling from 4,500 to 4,140 while increasing its authorized police ceiling from 50 to 345 police personnel. 

The resolution decided to renew until 15 May 2019 UNISFA’s mandated tasks ‑ laid out in resolution 1990 (2011) ‑ related to the protection of its personnel, facilities and equipment as well as civilians under any imminent threat of physical violence.  It also expressed its intention to request the appointment of a civilian Deputy Head of Mission for UNISFA unless the parties make progress towards a political solution.

The Council requested the parties to update the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel and the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa by 15 April 2019 on efforts made towards resolving the final status of Abyei.

The resolution demanded that the parties allow all humanitarian personnel full, safe and unhindered access to civilians in need, as well as all facilities needed for their operations. 

It renewed its call upon the governments of Sudan and South Sudan to provide full support to the United Nations, including by promptly issuing entry visas to military, police, civilian and humanitarian personnel.  It strongly urged all parties to cease any forms of violence, human rights violations and abuses and violations of international humanitarian law, including those committed against women and children.

Omer Dahab Fadl Mohamed, Sudan’s permanent representative to the United Nations, welcomed the Council’s unity in adopting UNISFA’s mandate for another six months and underlined his government’s commitment to cooperating with the Mission. 

Dahab underlined the pressing need to address all the issues covered by the 2011 agreement, he said that establishing structures for joint administration as well as an administrative council and a joint police force are vital to delivering services, strengthening peaceful cooperation and ultimately moving towards a comprehensive peace.

“Abyei is an integral part of the Sudanese territory,” he stressed, thanking all international partners that have supported his government’s efforts towards peace.

Meanwhile South Sudan’s representative to the United Nations Akuei Bona Malwal welcomed the mandate renewal and reaffirmed his government’s commitment to continue to engage the Council in the pursuit of a final solution to the Abyei issue. 

Voicing his determination to take advantage of the current rapprochement in the bilateral relations between Sudan and South Sudan, as well as other positive regional developments, he pledged to work towards a satisfactory resolution as soon as possible.