A South Sudanese civil society entity has welcomed Wednesday’s decision of by the United Nations Security Council to renew the mandate of its peacekeeping force in Abyei.
The UN Council extended until 15 May 2018 UNISFA’s mandate in Abyei, a contested territory on the Sudan and South Sudan border.
Unanimously adopting a resolution, the 15-member Security Council also extended, for the same duration, tasks of UNISFA set out in the resolution that authorized the deployment of the same force 2011.
In a statement, Community Empowerment for Progress Organisation (CEPO) welcomed the renewal by the Security Council of the peacekeepers’ mandate in the disputed region for the next six months.
“It is great and effective response to our advocacy. We are expecting the peacekeepers to effectively engage in protecting the lives of the civilians. The recent killings of civilians in Abyei are disturbing,” said CEPO in a statement issued Thursday.
The renowned civil society organisation, however, called upon the UN peacekeepers in Abyei to maintain the approach of offering some services to the community such as cleaning of the town.
“These activities are giving home face for the peacekeepers,” it further stressed.
Meanwhile, the Security Council also extended until 15 April 2018 UNISFA’s support for the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism, which was established by the two countries as part of the negotiations on South Sudan’s secession from Sudan in July 2011.
The 15-member Council, however, decided that this renewal of UNISFA’s support for the Mechanism will be “the final such extension” unless Sudan and South Sudan 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.
The Council further decided to maintain the authorized troop ceiling of 4,791 until 15 April 2018, but the ceiling will decrease to 4,235 unless the Council decides to extend UNISFA’s support for the Mechanism.
On 27 June 2011, the Security Council, by its resolution 1990, responded to the urgent situation in the disputed region of Abyei by establishing the UNISFA.
UNISFA’s establishment came after the Sudanese government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) in the south reached an agreement in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to demilitarise Abyei and let Ethiopian troops monitor the area.
Abyei, according to the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) provides that the contested territory remains part of the north until the organisation of a referendum determines its fate. The difference over who will participate in the referendum prevents the two countries from holding the agreed referendum.
However, the Dinka Ngok organised a unilateral referendum from 27 to 29 October 2013 to say they want to join the Republic of South Sudan. Khartoum, Juba, the African Union and the international community did not recognise outcomes of the vote.