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UN chief recommends again UNIFSA reconfiguration despite Sudan’s rejection

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)
October 28, 2018 (NEW YORK) - In a report to be discussed on Monday, United Nations Secretary-General has once again recommended reconfiguring the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) in spite of Sudanese government rejection last September.

Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix is expected to brief the Security Council on Monday on UNISA activities in the disputed border area of Abyei which include the stabilisation of the security situation and to support the monitoring of a demilitarized zone between Sudan and South Sudan.

In his report to the 15-member body, Lacroix recalled that he had submitted a proposal to reconfigure the UNISFA to adapt its role to include the security situation inside the disputed area, as the UN secretary-general report for the past six months shows the increase of criminal activities due to the lack of a local police force.

"A reconfigured mission would benefit from the ongoing reconciliation process between South Sudanese opposition and government forces that resulted in the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan, signed in Addis Ababa on 12 September," he said.

"In the event that this initiative leads to a return to stability in South Sudan, the two sides would be better positioned to discuss the outstanding issues from the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2005," he stressed in a recommendation in his report.

During a discussion of the reconfiguration proposal last September, the Sudanese ambassador to the United Nations strongly rejected the proposed change of mandate saying that Juba has to accept the formation the joint police for and local institutions as provided in the agreement signed on 20 June 2011.

Khartoum, in fact, fears that such proposal could invalidate the 20 June 2011 agreement and open the door for more actions from the Ngok Dinka who want to hold a self-determination referendum without the Misseriya nomadic herders.

The report estimated that some 37,000 Misseriya pastoralists arrived in the Abyei Area during the annual migration in 2018, before to return northwards between May and June, following the onset of the rainy season.

The Secretary-General also pointed to the failure of the Abyei Joint Oversight Committee and the Joint Political and Security Mechanism to hold regular meetings pointing that it threatens the consolidation of the gains made on the ground.

"I urge both Governments to undertake discussions at the ministerial level to review the implementation of their agreements, and I pledge the support of the United Nations to such a focused endeavour. I believe that the two sides have the ability, political will and capital to resolve their outstanding disputes in a finite timeframe," said the UN chief in his report.