The status of the Abyei Region remains one of the primary sources of conflict between Sudan and South Sudan. In 2011, fighting between the South Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) in the Abyei Region escalated and resulted in the destruction of the town of Abyei and surrounding villages. The fighting also led to the displacement of more than 100,000 people, and additional contamination from landmines and Explosive Remnants of War (ERW). The United Nations responded to this with Security Council resolution 1990 (2011), establishing the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) and 4,200 Ethiopian peacekeepers were deployed to the Abyei Region.
In August of that year, four UNISFA peacekeepers were killed while seven others were injured in a landmine accident. In response, UNMAS contracted a clearance team to open priority routes. The work of this team dramatically expanded UNISFA’s ability to patrol areas in the Abyei Region.
In December, Security Council resolution 2024 (2011), expanded UNISFA’s mandate to include support to the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism (JBVMM). UNMAS began planning operational support for the JBVMM teams to be stationed along the 2,200 km border between Sudan and South Sudan. In addition, Security Council resolutions 2075, 2104, 2126, 2156, 2179, 2205, and 2230 expanded UNMAS role to include identification and clearance of landmines/ERW in the Safe Demilitarized Border Zone (SDBZ) to ensure the freedom of movement of JBVMM and weapons and ammunition storage activities.
From UNISFA’s Results Based Framework (A/69/740):
Significant challenges to the programme include the commitment of the Governments of Sudan and South Sudan to implementing the various Security Council resolutions, i.e. JBVMM and the SDBZ.
Security in the Abyei Region is unstable, which limits UNISFA’s freedom of movement and UNMAS operations in support of UNISFA. Furthermore, during the Abyei Region’s rainy season, which lasts from June until the end of September each year, demining operations are not possible.
Ongoing conflicts in South Sudan and Darfur and South Kordofan States in Sudan cause security challenges and may result in increased contamination in the Abyei Region and the SDBZ.
UNISFA allocated US$25.4 million to UNMAS for the period 01 July 2015 to 30 June 2016 to support UNMAS activities under UN Security Council resolutions 2104, 2075, 2126, 2156, 2179, 2205, and 2230. UNMAS UNISFA is fully funded through 30 June 2016.
Updated July 2015