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UN field support official visits Abyei to prepare UNISFA’s mandate review

Ethiopian Peacekeepers patrols in Abyei Southern sector to enure that Misseriya and Ngok Dinka communities are sharing grazing land and water peacefully on 22 April 2017(Photo UNISFA)
July 29, 2018 (KHARTOUM) - The United Nations Under-Secretary-General (USG) for Field Support, Atul Khare, said his visit to the disputed area of Abyei meant to build up coordination with the mission ahead of the expected review of the mission mandate.

Last April, the UN Security Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) until 15 October 2018 and warned that it would terminate a modification to its mandate decided in 2012 to support a Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism agreed by South Sudan and Sudan in line with the Cooperation Agreement of 27 September 2012.

On Friday Khare concluded a two-day visit to Abyei included JBVMM sites in Kadugli South Kordofan to inspect the mission’s operational progress, its challenges and plans. In Abyei, he met with local leaders and UNISFA leadership and staff.

In a meeting with the UNISFA leadership on Friday, the senior international official thanked UNISFA leadership for its tireless efforts to carry out the mission’s mandate despite political and security challenges. He further praised the Force Commander, General Gebre Adhana Woldezgu, for building a team and running an inclusive administration.

"USG Khare highlighted that his visit aimed to strengthen the coordination and support between Headquarters and the mission and assured Staff members that the current review of UNISFA’s composition is aimed at aligning the mission with new realities on the ground," said a statement extended to Sudan Tribune on Sunday.

The Security Council in its resolution 2412 (2018) said the UNISFA’s support for a Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism (JBVMM) would be the final until the parties took action leading to progress on border demarcation.

The JBVMM is operating under the UNISFA and has been tasked to monitor, verify and investigate any movement by armed forces and armed civilians in the 2100 km Safe Demilitarized Border Zone (SDBZ).

Accordingly, the Council decided to maintain UNISFA’s authorized troop ceiling of 4,791 until 15 October 2018, and further that, as of that date, the ceiling would decrease to 4,250, unless the Council decided to extend the mandate modification.

Before to visit Abyei, the USG for Field Support spent three days in Darfur region where he discussed areas of cooperation, including support for IDPs and refugees to voluntarily return to their areas of origin, construction of internal road networks and capacity building of state government employees through training.

"UNAMID is going to be here for about two more years and within these years we will try to help as much as possible for the future," Khare said in according to a statement released by Darfur hybrid peacekeeping operation.

Ahead of the UNAMID exit from Darfur in two years, Khare added that discussions would take place with authorities at locality, state and national level to determine the best use of the facilities established by UNAMID to benefit communities. Some of the facilities, such as camps, could be converted to hospitals, colleges or schools and used for social development, among various options, he said.