8519th Security Council Meeting: Report of Secretary-General on Sudan and South Sudan

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30-Apr-2019 01:39:05
Adding civilian component to Abyei Interim Force essential towards matching ‘Reality on the Ground’, Peacekeeping chief tells Security Council at 8519th meeting.

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The United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) remains essential to the stability of the border regions between Sudan and South Sudan, the Organization’s Peacekeeping chief told the Security Council today, proposing the creation of a civilian unit to support progress towards political resolution of the dispute and requesting a six-month extension of its mandate.

A civilian component would enable the mission to support the parties, the African Union High-level Implementation Panel and the African Union Commission to advance daily solutions, said Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, presenting the Secretary-General’s latest report. “This modest shift in the mission’s role is necessary to match the reality on the ground,” he said.

He underscored the need to prevent the dispute from becoming a frozen conflict, stressing that while the situation generally remains calm — amid efforts by the Ngok Dinka and Misseriya communities to preserve peace through dialogue — Sudan and South Sudan have made no progress on the issue of Abyei.

Further, there have been delays in the Council’s request to reconfigure the mission, he said. The first phase of troop reductions — a repatriation of 260 troops by 15 March — has not taken place, but efforts are under way to start the process on 12 May. As for the increase in police personnel, while the selection of police officers and the formed police unit has been completed, 130 visas from the Government of Sudan, necessary for their deployment, remain outstanding.

Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, said that following the ouster of Sudan’s President on 11 April, the new authorities may need time to resume bilateral relations on the border, the Two Areas and Abyei. “We have a de facto status quo situation,” he said. In the absence of a joint administration and progress on Abyei’s final status, UNISFA remains central to preventing and resolving intercommunal conflicts.

In the coming weeks, he will encourage Khartoum and Juba to take a fresh look at the Abyei file, with a focus on implementing temporary arrangements for the Area’s administration. Noting that Sudan’s political transition could allow for redefining relations between the “centre” and its “peripheries” in a way that ends discrimination based on ethnicity, religion and territorial belonging, he said he will encourage parties to resolve the conflicts on the basis of a new political dispensation.

In the ensuing debate, delegates called on parties to accelerate efforts to fulfil their obligations, with several, including Côte d’Ivoire’s delegate, pressing Sudan and South Sudan to advance joint plans for administering Abyei. Equatorial Guinea’s delegate said those efforts should include plans for a police force, with the granting of all necessary visas. The 2011 agreement is the only way to achieve lasting stability and he called on the parties to recommit themselves to their provisions.

For its part, Khartoum is committed to upholding all agreements signed with South Sudan, said Sudan’s representative, especially the 2011 accord on temporary arrangements in Abyei — the bedrock for all such arrangements — including UNISFA’s deployment. The question of Abyei should be considered in the overall framework of relations between the countries, he said, citing progress made following negotiations — hosted by Sudan — which led to the Revitalized Agreement on the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan in 2018. Abyei is an integral part of Sudan, he recalled, a “historical fact” which must be recognized in any future arrangement.

South Sudan’s delegate meanwhile expressed optimism that the process begun by the two sisterly countries towards resolving the issue of Abyei will continue, facilitating a resolution on the latter’s final status. The Governments of Sudan and South Sudan are committed to the implementation of UNISFA’s mandate and request the Council’s continued support, she said.

Also speaking today were representatives of the United States, Kuwait, Indonesia, France, Dominican Republic, Peru, United Kingdom, Belgium, China, Russian Federation, Poland, South Africa and Germany.

The meeting began at 10:57 a.m. and ended at 12:36 p.m.

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