Abyei (UNISFA)

Currently in Abyei

Military Personnel

4,338

Police Officers

28

Civilian Personnel

222

Mission Mandate

On June 27, 2011, the UN Security Council voted unanimously to establish UNISFA, a peacekeeping mission for the Abyei region on the border of Sudan and South Sudan. Resolution 1990, drafted and championed by the United States, provided for the deployment of peacekeepers to provide security and protect civilians under imminent threat of violence in the disputed border region. This mandate allows UNISFA peacekeepers to take the necessary actions to protect civilians under imminent threat of physical violence, irrespective of the source.

Background

The history of Sudan has long been plagued by civil war. The largely non-Arab, non-Muslim South, accused the predominately Arab, Muslim North of political and economic exclusion, as well as ethnic and religious discrimination. The protracted war, which lasted on-and-off for decades, pitted the North’s government against the South’s rebel groups, most notably the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA). In 2005, the two sides agreed to the comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), ending the war, but leaving certain issues unresolved.

While a 2011 referendum resulted in the independence of South Sudan, the Abyei area, which lies along the border of Sudan and South Sudan, remains contested. Due to the presence of oil in the region, Abyei is of significant economic value to both countries. The situation is further exacerbated by a competition for resources; rival ethnic groups – the Ngok Dinka from the South and the Misseriya from the North – claim ownership of the land and have been the driving force behind violence in the region for the past several years. As part of the 2005 CPA, both northern and southern Sudanese authorities agreed to hold a referendum to decide the future status of Abyei in January 2011. However, violence and southern concerns over voter eligibility prevented the referendum from occurring at that time, and the vote has effectively been postponed indefinitely.

7,759

Last year, UNIFSA carried out 7,759 day, night, and special patrols in the Abyei area.

On 22 October, 2013, the Presidents of the Sudan and South Sudan met in Juba and agreed to expedite the establishment of the Abyei Area Administration, the Abyei Area Council and the Abyei Police Service. Despite the apparent progress represented by this agreement, the situation has since begun to deteriorate. Furthermore, little progress has been made in the establishment of the Abyei Area Administration, Council, and Police Services. These delays, along with the recent increase in violence, serve to highlight the value and necessity of UNISFA’s presence and continued efforts in the region.

How This Affects American Interests