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Abyei dominates UN Security Council meeting

By William Madouk

 

Discussion on the stalled determination of the final status of Abyei dominates the United Nations Security Council meeting.

In a statement released yesterday, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, said that political progress towards the determination of the final status of Abyei remains stalled as war rages in Sudan.

He added that despite positive engagement in the months before the crisis, ongoing fighting is ‘likely to continue to seriously impact the chances for constructive dialogue between the two countries on these topics.’

According to Lacroix, the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) has continued to prioritize efforts to improve intercommunal relations on the ground in Abyei.

“The mission’s continued focus on relations between the Ngok Dinka and Misseriya is critical to ensuring this progress is sustained,” he stressed, while noting that clashes between the Ngok Dinka and Twic Dinka increased.

He urged the government of South Sudan to strengthen its engagement with relevant communities so that further violence can be prevented.

Lacroix rued the presence of South Sudanese security forces in southern Abyei since October 2022, including additional troop deployments that took place in late March and early April.

“This presence is in violation of the 2011 Agreement between Sudan and South Sudan on Abyei and relevant Security Council resolutions,” he stated.

Moreover, he called on Juba to withdraw all security personnel from Abyei and to ensure full freedom of movement for UNISFA in line with the status-of-forces agreement.

He raised alarm over a series of clashes between members of the Ngok Dinka and Nuer communities in southern and central Abyei in January and February, which resulted in civilian casualties.

Lacroix emphasizes that rule-of-law support for the people of Abyei “remains as important as ever” as the Sudan crisis results in the continued movement of displaced people into Abyei and the insecurity associated with ongoing inter-communal violence continues.

Also, the representative of the Republic of Korea stressed that UNISFA must be able to carry out its mandate without freedom-of-movement restrictions, calling on all parties to respect the demilitarized status of Abyei.

“In the meantime, we look forward to the completion of UNISFA’s ‘smart camps’ construction, which can improve the safety, security, and efficiency of the mission,” he said.

Besides, a Chinese envoy, Dai Bing, called for efforts to relaunch the political process in Abyei, a territory contested by Sudan and South Sudan.

The armed conflict in Sudan has had a multifaceted impact on the situation in Abyei.

“China expects that Sudan will end the conflict soon and resume dialogue and cooperation with South Sudan at an early date, so as to lay the basis for relaunching the Abyei political process,” Dai said at the UN Security Council briefing on Abyei.

China commends and supports the United Nations, the African Union, and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development in their efforts to resolve the Abyei issue, he said.

Meanwhile, the representative of the Russian Federation underscored that Sudan is still in a situation of severe armed conflict, with “devastating humanitarian consequences for the entire region.”

“Juba has the onerous burden of having to host refugees and South Sudanese people returning from the north,” she added.

 

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