Expected Council Action
Council members are expected to hold consultations in May to consider the Secretary-General’s report on the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) due by 1 May.
The mandate of UNISFA expires on 15 July.
Key Recent Developments
Relations between the Misseriya and Ngok-Dinka communities in Abyei have continued to be poor. Violent clashes have occurred in Abyei in recent months, with several attacks perpetrated by Misseriya assailants in the area. On 1 March, a group of approximately 100 armed Misseriya attacked the Ngok-Dinka village of Marial Achak, setting fire to several homes and kidnapping four children. On 29 March, Misseriya raiders seized several hundred cattle from cattle camps close to Majok Toc. And on 6 April, six people were killed during a Misseriya raid on the village of Kouldet.
On 17 March, Under-Secretary-General Hervé Ladsous briefed Council members on Abyei under “any other business”, focusing on the 1 March incident. He said UNISFA peacekeepers fired on the attackers of Marial Achak, killing three and detaining eight others. Based on interrogations that UNISFA conducted, Ladsous reported that the mission learned that one of the attackers was affiliated with Sudanese military intelligence and also that the attackers had received support from wealthy individuals in Khartoum.
Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan and Special Representative to the AU Haile Menkerios briefed Council members on 24 March in consultations on Sudan/South Sudan. Menkerios said that the Abyei Joint Oversight Committee (AJOC), which had not met since May 2013 following the assassination of the Ngok-Dinka paramount chief Kuol Deng Kuol by a Misseriya, would reconvene by the end of March. Menkerios stated that UNISFA was in contact with Sudan regarding the attack on Marial Achak, and he said that the four abducted children would be released shortly.
Indeed, on 9 April, through negotiations conducted by UNISFA, the kidnapped children were returned to their homes. Of the eight Misseriya detained by the mission, six were handed over to Misseriya community leaders, and two (the military intelligence officer and an officer in a local militia group) were remanded to Sudanese officials in the expectation that they will face appropriate legal measures.
The AJOC convened on 29-30 March in Addis Ababa. At the conclusion of the meeting, the two AJOC co-chairs, Hassan Ali Nimir of Sudan and Deng Mading Mijak of South Sudan, issued a brief statement in which they called for Misseriya and Ngok-Dinka leaders to convene in Addis Ababa to “address their common concerns”, condemned recent security incidents in the Abyei area, agreed to support humanitarian and development initiatives in the area and reiterated that Abyei should be free of weapons. The co-chairs also agreed that the AJOC would reconvene after the meeting of the Misseriya and Ngok-Dinka community leaders, which is expected in May.
The ongoing key issue is whether and how the Council can induce Sudan and South Sudan to establish temporary administrative and security institutions to fill the law-and-order vacuum in Abyei, and, over the longer term, to resolve the final status of the area.
Another key issue is whether the Council can play a role in supporting inter-communal dialogue and reconciliation between the Misseriya and Ngok-Dinka communities.
With the recent resumption of the AJOC activity after a nearly two-year hiatus, an important issue is how the Council can help maintain the momentum and encourage Sudan and South Sudan to hold regular AJOC meetings to work on issues of mutual concern.
Another key issue is the future of the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism (JBVMM) along the Sudan-South Sudan border. (In resolution 2024 of 14 December 2011, the Council authorised UNISFA to assist the parties in monitoring the border within the Safe Demilitarised Border Zone. However, more than three and a half years after the adoption of this resolution, the mission’s monitoring tasks have been minimal, and in his last report to the Council on Abyei, the Secretary-General said that he would be offering his recommendations on the JBVMM’s operations in his next report [due by 1 May], considering that it “is effectively not being supported by the parties themselves”.)
The Council could consider adopting a statement:
- welcoming the recent meeting of the AJOC and encouraging the committee to meet regularly;
- condemning recent inter-communal attacks in the area and calling for accountability for these attacks; and
- reiterating its demand that Sudan withdraw its oil police from the Diffra oil facility in Abyei.
There has long been frustration among Council members with the stalemate on a number of issues related to Abyei, including the inability of the parties to establish temporary administrative units in the area, to demilitarise the area and to make progress on negotiations on its final status. Despite this lack of progress, some members point to the recent reconvening of the AJOC as an encouraging sign. There is also recognition on the Council that Sudan and South Sudan are each focusing much of their energy and attention on their own domestic crises, leaving little room for serious engagement on the challenges in Abyei.
The US is the penholder on Abyei.
UN DOCUMENTS ON SUDAN/SOUTH SUDAN
|Security Council Resolutions|
|26 February 2015 S/RES/2205||This resolution renewed the mandate of UNISFA until 15 July 2015.|
|30 January 2015 S/2015/77||This was the report of the Secretary-General on the situation in Abyei.|