Security Council Calls on Sudan, South Sudan, to Demilitarize Abyei, Highlights Impact of Sudan Conflict on Area’s Political Process, Humanitarian Needs
Sudan and South Sudan must respect the demilitarization of Abyei and evacuate their forces, Security Council members urged today, as senior officials reported on the latest political, security and humanitarian developments, including the impact of ongoing fighting in Sudan on agreement on the final status of the disputed area.
Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, briefing the Council on the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA), whose mandate renewal will be considered by the Council next week, said the outbreak of armed conflict in Sudan in April interrupted encouraging signs of dialogue between Sudan and South Sudan earlier in 2023 and effectively put on hold the political process with regard to the final status of Abyei and border issues. “The United Nations, in close coordination with the African Union, remains ready to support a resumption of dialogue and is monitoring the situation for the conditions that might allow for this,” he said.
The presence of approximately 200 South Sudan People’s Defence Forces and South Sudan National Police Service personnel in southern Abyei, and an estimated 60 Sudanese oil police in northern Abyei contradict UNISFA’s mandate and Abyei’s demilitarized and weapons-free status, resulting in restrictions on the Mission's freedom of movement, he pointed out, calling once again on relevant authorities for their withdrawal.
The Mission has worked to facilitate humanitarian assistance to an estimated 220,000 vulnerable people in the central and southern parts of Abyei, including those displaced in intercommunal clashes and others fleeing the fighting in Sudan, he continued, reporting that, in Abyei, the Sudan crisis has resulted in an influx of displaced people, with the UN’s humanitarian partners recording over 9,000 people at Amiet Market who have sought refuge from the fighting.
“With the conflict in Sudan, the conditions are not conducive for talks on the final status of Abyei,” said Hanna Serwaa Tetteh, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Horn of Africa. Nevertheless, representatives of Abyei communities expressed the need to maintain the Abyei issue on the agenda of the UN and African Union. Pointing to the tense security and dire humanitarian situations in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, exacerbated by the conflict between the Sudanese Armed Forces and Rapid Support Forces, she urged the international community to pursue a comprehensive political strategy dealing with the conflicts in South Kordofan and Blue Nile and the final status of Abyei.
In the debate that followed, Council members voiced concern about stalled political progress towards Abyei’s permanent settlement, and the impact of the conflict in Sudan to that end. Speakers also pointed to the presence of security forces from both Sudan and South Sudan in Abyei in violation of its demilitarized and weapons-free status and called on both sides to withdraw their troops and return to dialogue.
Ghana’s representative, speaking also on behalf of Gabon and Mozambique, emphasized the central role of the African Union and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in supporting both countries towards a comprehensive agreement on the final status of Abyei, stressing that leadership of the region is crucial for a sustainable solution to the situation there. He expressed regret that no progress has been made in the Abyei political process and, like other speakers, called on the warring parties in Sudan to cease hostilities and embrace dialogue and diplomacy to allow for peacebuilding and reconciliation in the country.
The representative of the United States was among speakers who voiced concern over the continued presence in Abyei of South Sudanese and Sudanese armed groups, threatening its demilitarized status. He called on all armed groups to depart the region and called on the Governments of Sudan and South Sudan to evacuate their forces. Emphasizing the importance of UNISFA peacekeepers’ safety, he urged the parties to the conflict to provide safe passage and freedom of movement to all personnel — a call also made by other delegations.
Malta’s delegate encouraged Sudan and South Sudan to build on previous exchanges held in Khartoum and Juba and to revive further discussions on the final status of Abyei. Pointing to the continued military occupation of schools and community centres, she reiterated the need for establishment of the Abyei Police Service until parties agree on the final status of Abyei. The recent establishment of an internal gender focal point system within UNISFA and the launch of the UN Police Women Network are key to ensure a coordinated and integrated response to the protection needs of women in Abyei, she added.
Switzerland’s delegate, on that note, stressed that more needs to be done to protect the population in Abyei and mitigate the impact of people fleeing Sudan’s conflict as well as displacement due to intercommunal tensions. Ecuador’s representative, highlighting reports of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on enslavement of women and girls, called for their immediate release and for perpetrators to be brought to justice. High food insecurity exacerbates the regional situation, he added, stressing: “Today, more than ever, humanitarian assistance and the protection of those who provide it are essential.”
Sudan’s representative, regarding the impact of the ongoing armed conflict in his country between Sudan Armed Forces and Rapid Support Forces, said the latter is receiving military support from regional countries, stressing that regional conferences should get in touch with those countries supporting the Rapid Support Forces. Noting that Abyei is free of military presence, except for buffer areas in the north and south, he said his Government awaits an agreement on the final status, based on a reasonable approach that will help resolve outstanding issues and ensure social cohesion, and called for unilateral measures to be avoided.
South Sudan’s representative, reaffirming her country’s commitment to the peaceful resolution of the Abyei dispute and acceptance of the proposal of the African Union High-level Implementation Panel, which provides for a referendum to determine the final status of the Abyei Area, said: “We call on the Government of Sudan to demonstrate the same political will and to engage constructively in dialogue and in negotiations with us, under the auspices of the African Union and the United Nations, to reach an agreement on this matter as soon as possible.”
JEAN-PIERRE LACROIX, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, said the outbreak of armed conflict in Sudan in April interrupted encouraging signs of dialogue between Sudan and South Sudan earlier in 2023, and effectively put on hold the political process with regard to the final status of Abyei and border issues. “The United Nations, in close coordination with the African Union, remains ready to support a resumption of dialogue and is monitoring the situation for the conditions that might allow for this,” he said. He reported that, in Abyei, the Sudan crisis has resulted in an influx of displaced people, adding that at Amiet Market, the UN’s humanitarian partners have recorded over 9,000 people who have sought refuge from the fighting. Pointing to an increase in weapons circulation in Abyei, as well as economic hardship for its population due to the conflict in Sudan, he said the flow of basic goods and commodities, many of which came from the north, has been disrupted and UNISFA too has had to adjust its deployment routes and supply arrangements.
Fighting in South Kordofan and the area of operations of the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism has created challenges for UNISFA, he continued. While aerial patrolling has been halted due to airspace restrictions, Joint Border Mechanism personnel remain in place and ground monitoring in the border area continues. “Amidst regional insecurity, supporting constructive relations between the two countries with regard to their shared border remains an important priority for UNISFA,” he stressed. There were three occasions over the past six months when peacekeepers, who are now in a stable condition, were attacked and injured, he reported, stressing: “The safety of our peacekeepers is a top priority and investigations into the attacks are ongoing.” The Mission has worked to facilitate humanitarian assistance to an estimated 220,000 vulnerable people in the central and southern parts of Abyei, including those displaced in intercommunal clashes and those fleeing the fighting in Sudan, he continued, pointing to efforts to increase the humanitarian presence in northern Abyei, where the Sudan crisis has created significant challenges for the deployment staff and supplies.
While violence between the Ngok Dinka and Misseriya communities was somewhat reduced, continued efforts are required to address ongoing tensions and promote reconciliation, he stressed, noting that, although there was a welcome lull during the first part of the reporting period, new clashes have been reported on both sides of Abyei’s southern boundary as the rainy season has receded. UNISFA remains alert, responding to early warning provided by the community and working in close coordination with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) to protect civilians, he added. Further detailing its work, he said the Mission launched in June the UN Police Women Network as a forum to share experiences, raise awareness about gender mainstreaming in peace operations and promote implementation of the women, peace and security mandate. As the number of women contingent troops remains low at 7 per cent, he called on troop- and police-contributing countries to work with UNISFA to prioritize the deployment of women. He went on to say that, although the Sudan crisis has delayed the completion of UNISFA’s reconfiguration from a single troop-contributing country mission to a UN multinational peacekeeping force, it is expected that, by the first quarter of 2024, the remainder of troops and contingent-owned equipment will have arrived and the Mission will have reached its full operational capacity. Meanwhile, UNISFA peacekeepers have been capably implementing the Mission’s mandate. The presence of approximately 200 South Sudan People’s Defence Forces and South Sudan National Police Service personnel in southern Abyei and an estimated 60 Sudanese oil police in northern Abyei contradict the Mission’s mandate and Abyei’s demilitarized and weapons-free status and have resulted in restrictions on UNISFA’s freedom of movement, he pointed out, calling once again on the relevant authorities for their withdrawal. The UN country teams in Sudan and South Sudan, with UNISFA, have continued implementation of the Abyei UN Joint Programme aimed at creating an environment conducive to peace coexistence, he added.
HANNA SERWAA TETTEH, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Horn of Africa, briefing the Council, said the conflict in Sudan has consequences of deep concern for the South Sudanese political leadership. This includes people fleeing to South Sudan and returnees to that country, where two thirds of the population are already in need of humanitarian assistance. The military confrontation between the Sudanese Armed Forces and Rapid Support Forces is getting closer to the boundary with Abyei and the border with South Sudan, she said. “These military developments could have adverse consequences for Abyei’s social fabric,” she said, and the already fragile coexistence between the Misseriya and Ngok Dinka. The Government of South Sudan is engaging with regional leaders and warring parties to de-escalate the conflict, bring about a ceasefire, and promote dialogue. She noted that Sudanese and South Sudanese leaders have met as part of South Sudanese mediation efforts. South Sudan is concerned about the security of oil installations, the pipeline to transport oil though Port Sudan and the continued relevance of the Juba Peace Agreement. It met with parties concerned in October to evaluate Juba Peace Agreement implementation and consult with the parties on peace negotiations between the Rapid Support Forces and Sudanese Armed Forces. The Rapid Support Forces were invited but did not participate. The parties called for halting the fighting and a peaceful resolution. On 29 October, the group of Juba Peace Agreement signatories issued a statement condemning Rapid Support Forces’ abuses and saying that the Sudanese Armed Forces is the legitimate defender of the country.
“With the conflict in Sudan, the conditions are not conducive for talks on the final status of Abyei,” she said, adding that progress made is unfortunately not something that can be built on. Key Sudanese and South Sudanese leaders have not expressed the desire to engage on these topics and, with its offensive in West Kordofan, the Rapid Support Forces are getting closer to Abyei, controlling parts of the border with South Sudan. Nevertheless, representatives of the Abyei communities expressed the need to maintain the Abyei issue on the agenda of the UN and African Union, she said. The South Sudanese Abyei High-Level Committee met with her on 4 October and proposed that Abyei’s final status could be part of broader negotiations addressing the Sudanese conflict, she said. She will continue engagement with representatives of Abyei and the South Sudan Government to reduce hate speech and encourage community-based reconciliation. Inter-communal violence and displaced people continuing to arrive daily in Abyei are putting more pressure on the region, she added.
In South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, the conflict between the Sudanese Armed Forces and Rapid Support Forces has aggravated the already tense security and dire humanitarian situations, and has reignited a conflict between Sudanese Armed Forces and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N). There have also been clashes between SPLM-N and the Rapid Support Forces in the two regions. The conflicts in South Kordofan and Bule Nile cannot be addressed without negotiations on their final status, she said. This requires a permanent ceasefire and a political process to end the conflict between the Sudanese Armed Forces and Rapid Support Forces. Given the multiplicity of conflicts in Sudan, the international community should pursue a comprehensive political strategy dealing with the conflicts in South Kordofan and Blue Nile and the final status of Abyei, she said. She will work with parties to advocate for a comprehensive process that leaves no process unaddressed.
ROBERT A. WOOD (United States) voiced concern over the continued presence in Abyei of South Sudanese and Sudanese armed groups, threatening its demilitarized status. Stressing the responsibility of UNISFA’s peacekeeping forces for security, he called on all armed groups to depart the region and called on the Governments of Sudan and South Sudan to evacuate their forces. Emphasizing the importance of UNISFA peacekeepers’ safety, he voiced concern over two attacks on them by armed groups on 10 August and 28 August, calling for these incidents to be investigated and for those responsible to be held accountable. He also voiced concern over the threat posed by misinformation and false reports to UNISFA and the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mission, impeding the latter’s reestablishment in Gok Machar, as false reports implied that it will declare the final border status there. He therefore urged both Governments to support UNISFA to facilitate smooth operations, and for the South Sudanese Government to provide accurate information to local communities on the agreed role of the Verification Mission to enable it to establish its headquarters and team sites. Similarly, he urged the parties to the conflict to provide safe passage and freedom of movement to all personnel. On a positive note, he welcomed the decline in clashes between the Ngoc and Twik Dinka during the reporting period.
NATHALIE BROADHURST ESTIVAL (France), emphasizing that UNISFA action is essential to protect civilians and preserve conditions for a settlement of the conflict, called on Sudan and South Sudan to respect the demilitarization of Abyei. “The protracted conflict in Sudan is having an increasing impact on Abyei and on UNISFA”, she said, adding that it complicates the rotation of peacekeeper personnel and equipment and obstructs their support for the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism. She also stressed the need for an end to fighting and the delivery of humanitarian aid to Sudan. She condemned widespread violence against civilians, including in Darfur, and called for a cessation of escalating violence in El-Fasher in North Darfur. Reiterating support for Special Envoy Hanna Tetteh, she encouraged States in the region to remain neutral regarding the conflict in Sudan in order to promote its political resolution through dialogue, respecting the principle of territorial integrity.
ARIAN SPASSE (Albania), voicing regret that the conflict in Sudan has impeded any political progress in resolving the final status of Abyei, said the African Union, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the UN should continue engagement and monitoring efforts with the aim of resuming political talks. Voicing concern about the fragile security situation, he called for full investigations into the attacks against UN personnel, stressing that UNISFA’s presence in Abyei plays an important role in preventing further escalations of violence. Noting that the fighting in South Kordofan has created restrictions for the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism and hampered UNISFA’s freedom of movement, he urged all parties to respect the Status of Forces Agreement and allow the mission to safely execute its mandate. Sudan and South Sudan should also respect the 2011 Agreement between the Government of the Republic of the Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement on temporary arrangements for the administration and security of the Abyei Area and withdraw their military and police troops from the demilitarized zone.
PASCALE CHRISTINE BAERISWYL (Switzerland) said more needs to be done to protect the population in Abyei and mitigate the impact of people fleeing Sudan’s conflict as well as displacement due to intercommunal tensions. She congratulated the Misseriya and Ngok Dinka for the Conference on Transhumance Corridors in Noong. She said Community Protection Committees and the Joint Protection Committee “are essential for the promotion of the rule of law and for maintaining an early warning system”. She expressed concern about the presence of security forces from both countries and the proliferation of weapons. “Abyei must remain a demilitarised zone,” she said, adding that promoting an inclusive peace is fundamental, including communities, young people and women. Only at full operational capability will UNIFSA be sufficiently mobile, agile and responsive in this difficult context, she said, calling on Sudan and South Sudan to continue to respect the Status of Forces Agreement, ensuring that UNIFSA and the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism can continue to move freely and operate in safe and secure conditions.
JAMES KARIUKI (United Kingdom) welcomed mediation efforts by the Government of South Sudan to address tensions between the Ngok Dinka and Twic Dinka, while noting that the security situation in Abyei remains tense due to violent intercommunal clashes. Voicing concern over ongoing positioning of the South Sudan People’s Defence Forces in southern Abyei, he called upon the South Sudanese Government to immediately withdraw its troops in line with the 2011 Status of Forces Agreement. The security situation is being exacerbated by the wholly unjustified and brutal conflict being waged by the Sudanese Armed Forces and Rapid Support Forces in Sudan, he said, noting the displacement of 9,000 civilians, who have entered Abyei since hostilities began, worsening complex communal tensions. Noting that the effective closure of Sudanese airspace has made aerial patrolling impossible, he underscored the importance of the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism being able to maintain a range of operations to deliver its mandate in full. The ongoing political gridlock on the future status of Abyei can only be resolved if all sides in Sudan cease hostilities and return to the negotiating table in good faith.
HAROLD A. AGYEMAN (Ghana), speaking also on behalf of Gabon and Mozambique, expressed regret that no progress was made in the Abyei political process and called on the warring parties in Sudan to cease hostilities and embrace dialogue and diplomacy to allow for peacebuilding and reconciliation in the country. Emphasizing the central role of the African Union and IGAD in supporting both countries towards a comprehensive agreement on the final status of Abyei, he stressed that the leadership of the region is crucial for a sustainable solution to the situation there, considering the history, culture and shared values of the inhabitants of Abyei and its surrounding areas. Noting that the proliferation of weapons, particularly at the community level, seems to be increasing the rate of fatalities from these clashes, he underlined the importance of the implementation of a comprehensive arms control programme that can help combat the illicit flow of weapons and prevent them from falling into civilian hands.
Voicing concern about continued attacks on civilians and UNISFA peacekeepers, he echoed the Secretary-General’s call on the relevant authorities to promptly investigate these attacks and hold those responsible to account. The presence of “some forces” in UNISFA’s areas of operation limits UNISFA’s freedom of movement to discharge its mandate, he said, calling on the concerned parties to withdraw their forces to maintain Abyei’s demilitarized and weapons-free status in line with the Agreement of 20 June 2011. He welcomed the continued efforts of Juba to halt violence in Abyei and Warrap State by promoting the implementation of the agreement of the Wau Conference. Noting the progress in strengthening the early warning system for conflict prevention at the local level, he said the operationalization of this mechanism is a step forward in improving UNISFA’s conflict prevention and preparedness capacity. He encouraged UNISFA to continue its approach of inclusivity and strengthen its engagement with community protection committees, youth and women, among other groups, to enhance information gathering and early response.
SHINO MITSUKO (Japan) reiterated strong concern over the ongoing fighting in Sudan on the situation in Abyei, as political progress towards a resolution of the Area’s final status and border issues is blocked while logistics and rotation of peacekeepers are hindered. She called on the parties to enact an immediate and permanent ceasefire and engage in a peaceful political process. “We are pleased to see a reduction in violence as a result of the continued efforts of the Government of South Sudan,” she said, adding that such efforts are needed to break the cycle of violence and build lasting peace and security. She also expressed concern about the continued presence of Sudanese and South Sudanese security forces in Abyei in violation of its demilitarized status and called on both countries to address this issue without delay and attend to UNISFA’s outstanding operational issues, such as the freedom of movement of all Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism and UNISFA personnel.
HERNÁN PÉREZ LOOSE (Ecuador) called on the Governments of Sudan and South Sudan to provide vital support needed for UNISFA’s work. Expressing concern about the continued presence of Sudanese and South Sudanese security forces in Abyei, he said the 2011 agreements “must be fully respected”. He highlighted reports of the UN Human Rights Office on enslavement of women and girls and called for their immediate release and for perpetrators to be brought to justice. He noted high food insecurity that exacerbates the regional situation. “Today, more than ever, humanitarian assistance and the protection of those who provide it are essential.” He expressed his gratitude for the work of the World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), among other agencies work, being done to help displaced people. He encouraged the African Union in addressing this crisis and finding a path towards dialogue, with UN support. Concluding, he expressed concern about attacks directed at civilians as well as UNISFA peacekeepers.
SARAH AL-AWADHI (United Arab Emirates) underscored the need to enable the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism to continue its work, in light of reported security gaps along the border area, which go against the 2011 Agreement on maintaining Abyei Area demilitarized. She also underscored the importance of continued coordination and information-sharing between UNISFA, the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) and UNMISS to enhance efforts in addressing issues of common concern, including border security and transhumance issues. Underscoring that efforts to reduce tensions between communities must be coupled with efforts to improve livelihoods for the long-term security of Abyei, she noted that such efforts have led to the reduction in levels of violence and clashes between communities, although the cycle of violence and clashes continue. On that, she underscored efforts to bolster the capacity of community protection committees and joint protection committees to identify early warning signs. She went on to condemn all attacks targeting peacekeepers and those preventing humanitarian access to reach those in need.
SÉRGIO FRANÇA DANESE (Brazil) said another effect of prolonged conflict in Sudan is the danger of rising intercommunal tensions in Abyei. “We welcome UNISFA’s endeavours to strengthen the mission-wide early warning system and commend how the mission has effectively integrated inputs from community protection committees,” he said, adding that the complete demilitarization of Abyei is yet to be achieved, as security forces from both countries remain mobilized in the area, violating the 2011 Temporary Arrangements. He called on Sudan and South Sudan to make progress towards demilitarizing Abyei, prioritize the establishment of the Abyei Police Service and take advantage of support the African Union and IGAD can provide. He stressed that the Abyei Police Service and local police personnel will be better equipped to address issues with local ownership and legitimacy. “UNISFA thus needs all our support to implement a mandate that remains essential for the people of Abyei,” he said.
ANNA M. EVSTIGNEEVA (Russian Federation) said that both countries are faced with an acute shortage of financial resources and are objects of political blackmail and external interference, including illegitimate unilateral measures. She noted that despite periodic incidents of intercommunal violence, the situation in Abyei remains generally stable. “We welcome the responsible approach demonstrated by both States regarding Abyei,” she said, commending Juba for its steps to welcome Sudanese refugees and returning South Sudanese and to promote intercommunal reconciliation in Abyei. “We attach great importance to fulfilling by both countries their obligations to maintain the demilitarized status of Abyei,” she said, welcoming the role played by the blue helmets in dealing with security issues, maintaining law and order and strengthening relations between local communities. “We believe that maintaining blue helmets in the Area is still very important,” she stressed, supporting the proposal for a technical extension of the peacekeepers’ mandate.
FRANCESCA MARIA GATT (Malta) strongly encouraged Sudan and South Sudan to build on previous exchanges held in Khartoum and in Juba and to revive further discussions on the final status of Abyei and called on both sides to withdraw their respective security forces. The continued military occupation of schools and community centres threatens children’s education and hinders UNISFA’s work, she said, reiterating the need for the establishment of the Abyei Police Service until the parties agree on the final status of Abyei. Commending the participation of women in early warning and conflict management structures, as well as in local administration, she voiced support for UNISFA’s intercommunity engagement and welcomed programmes designed to combat disenfranchisement and youth involvement in conflict and armed groups. Deploring sexual and gender-based violence against women and child marriage, she said the recent establishment of an internal gender focal point system within UNISFA, accompanied by the launch of the UN Police Women Network, are key to ensure a coordinated and integrated response to the protection needs of women in the Abyei Area.
DAI BING (China), Council President for November, speaking in his national capacity, said the international consensus is that a political solution must be found for Abyei. He called for efforts to be intensified in the maintenance of peace and security, highlighting that the situation in Sudan has affected the Abyei political process. He called for a ceasefire in Sudan and on parties concerned to provide security guarantees for the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism. Returnees and displaced people have exacerbated the humanitarian situation, he said, calling for humanitarian assistance to be maintained. He stressed that intercommunal relations are key to lasting peace. He hoped the UN would step up peacebuilding efforts in the region, noting the important role played by UNISFA in promoting the political process and maintaining security. He called for the UN Secretariat to support logistical mechanisms for the Mission.
AL-HARITH IDRISS AL-HARITH MOHAMED (Sudan), responding to comments, said that although the crisis that erupted in April led to the displacement of many people into Abyei, the Sudanese authorities did not intervene or put their forces in place in the region. However, 60 police officers were deployed there to prevent more attacks, and they are unarmed, “as UNISFA knows”, he added. Kadugli airport was used to ensure aid supply, for which his Government provided aid authorization, he said. On peace efforts, he spotlighted the holding of a conference on establishing trust and peaceful coexistence on transhumance and agricultural issues in the East and Middle Corridor in October, involving the Misseriya and other communities, noting the adoption of several resolutions which were not mentioned in the report. He emphasized the need for UNISFA to provide comprehensive security to stop the abduction of children from villages by criminal gangs, also stressing the importance for blood money and compensation to be provided in cases of robberies.
Turning to the impact of the ongoing armed conflict between the army and the Rapid Support Forces, he noted that the latter is receiving military support from regional countries. Voicing concern over the latter’s abuse of women, he added that no such accusations had been levelled against the Sudanese Armed Forces. Regional conferences should get in touch with those countries supporting the Rapid Support Forces, he said, adding that his country is ready to present evidence on such involvement. On legal aspects, he recalled his country’s commitment to the provisions set out in Council resolution 1990 (2011), of which the presence of UNISFA is also an outcome, and which include security arrangements, including a joint police force. His Government awaits an agreement on the final status, based on a reasonable approach that will help resolve outstanding issues and ensure social cohesion, he said, calling for unilateral measures to be avoided. Abyei is free of military presence, except for buffer areas in the north and south, he noted, calling on UNISFA to expand quick-impact projects and increase those projects in the fields of education, health, potable water and law and order.
CECILIA A. M. ADENG (South Sudan) commended UNISFA for maintaining security, facilitating humanitarian assistance in Abyei and supporting the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism. “We appreciate the contribution and sacrifice of the Ethiopian troops, who have been the sole troop-contributing country to UNISFA,” she said, expressing gratitude to new countries for their readiness to join UNISFA. She also assured the Council of her country’s respect for the Status of Forces Agreement and the freedom of movement and access of UNISFA personnel and assets. “We condemn any acts of violence or harassment against UNISFA peacekeepers, and we call for accountability and justice for the perpetrators,” she said, reaffirming commitment to the peaceful resolution of the Abyei dispute and acceptance of the proposal of the African Union High-level Implementation Panel, which provides for a referendum to determine the final status of the Abyei Area.
“We call on the Government of Sudan to demonstrate the same political will and to engage constructively in dialogue and in negotiations with us, under the auspices of the African Union and the United Nations, to reach an agreement on this matter as soon as possible,” she said, reaffirming the commitment to settle other outstanding issues between the two countries, including demarcation of the borders and reconciliation between the Ngok Dinka and Misseriya communities. “We believe that the Abyei Area can be a bridge of peace and cooperation between South Sudan and Sudan,” she said, appealing to the Council and the international community to continue supporting her country’s efforts to achieve this vision and to ensure that UNISFA has necessary resources. “We also hope that the current situation in Sudan will not affect the progress and stability in the Abyei Area and the region, and we reiterate our solidarity with the people of Sudan and their aspirations for democracy and development,” she said.