NEW YORK – The Security Council Wednesday extended the mandate for the Abyei peacekeeping force for six months and decided to reduce the number of troops in the border disputed area.
The 15 member body unanimously adopted resolution 2609 (2021) extending United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) mandate until 15 May 2022.
The resolution urged the two countries to continue to demonstrate measurable progress on border demarcation, specifically by taking certain measures.
They include that UNISFA and the Monitoring Mechanism patrols achieve standing clearance and full freedom of movement for all air and ground patrols, and operationalize the reopening of border crossing corridors, in line with decisions taken in October 2020 and September 2021.
The Council decided to reduce the authorized troop ceiling to 3,250 until 15 May 2022 and maintained the authorized ceiling at 640 police personnel, including 148 individual officers and three formed units.
It also expressed its intention to reduce the authorized police ceiling as the Abyei Police Service is gradually established.
The Council expressed serious concern that the Sudanese government has not issued visas promptly to support personnel critical for the mandate of UNISFA, including the police.
It also condemned the sporadic presence of South Sudan security forces and the deployment of Sudan’s Oil Police in Diffra, in the Abyei area, saying it violates the 20 June 2011 Agreement.
The resolution urged the two countries to immediately and without preconditions to withdraw their troops out of Abyei.
The representative of South Sudan expressed his country readiness to reach a peaceful solution including a free and fair referendum on the issue.
He said that Sudan is making use of the passage of time to make changes on the ground, adding such attempts are sowing the seeds of violent conflict in the area.
Sudan and South Sudan failed to agree on who should participate in a referendum to decide the fate of the area.
Khartoum pledged to open discussions on the future of the border area and proposed to form the agreed joint local institutions first but Juba demands the referendum.