The UN Security Council on Thursday extended the United Nations peacekeeping force in Abyei, a resource-rich area contested by Sudan and South Sudan, as part of the organization’s ongoing efforts to maintain peace and protect civilians there.
According to a resolution unanimously adopted here, the mandate of the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) was extended until July 15, 2015.
The force, set up by the Council in June 2011 following an outbreak of violence after Sudanese troops took control of the oil- rich area in the weeks before South Sudan became independent, is tasked with overseeing the demilitarization of the area and maintaining security.
The Council called on the communities and governments of Sudan and South Sudan to work with the United Nations towards resumed community dialogue and administration.
It stressed that “both countries will have much to gain if they show restraint and choose the path of dialogue instead of resorting to violence or provocations.”
Among other measures, the Council reiterated its demand that Sudan and South Sudan immediately resume the work of the Abyei Joint Oversight Committee (AJOC) “to ensure steady progress” on the implementation of the June 2011 Agreement, which provides for temporary administrative arrangements for Abyei and the withdrawal of troops by both sides.
In addition, the Council also reiterated its demand that both Sudan and South Sudan “urgently commence” the establishment of the Abyei Area Administration and Council in order to form an Abyei Police Service with a mandate to take over policing functions in the area, including the protection of oil infrastructure.
On June 20, 2011, the government of Sudan and representatives of South Sudan signed the Agreement on Temporary Arrangements for the Administration and Security of the Abyei Area, calling for demilitarization of Abyei and the establishment of an administrative and police service.
The current mandate of the UNISFA will expire on Feb. 28. Enditem