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UNMAS UNISFA Programme Manager Leon Louw supervises the weapon cutting. Photo: UNMAS/Bojan Vokovic

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Since 2011, the status of the Abyei Region has remained one of the main unresolved issues between Sudan and South Sudan. In 2011, fighting between the Sudan People’s Liberation Army and the Sudan Armed Forces in the Abyei Region escalated and resulted in the total 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). Tensions in the region continue to date. 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 2011, four UNISFA peacekeepers were killed and seven others were injured in a landmine accident. In response to the threat, the UN Mine Action Service (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 2011, 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 that will be stationed along the 2,100 km border between Sudan and South Sudan. In addition, Security Council resolutions 2075, 2104, 2126, 2156, 2179, 2205, 2230, and 2251 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 the JBVMM as well as to support UNISFA in weapons and ammunition management (WAM). 

UNMAS support to UNISFA in 2015/2016

From UNISFA’s Results Based Framework (A/69/740)

Expected accomplishments:

Expected outputs:


Significant challenges to the programme include the political commitment of the Governments of Sudan and South Sudan in implementing the various Security Council resolutions relating to the JBVMM and the SDBZ.

The security situation in UNISFA Area of Responsibility is also another challenge, with incidents in the Abyei Area related to cattle rustling and armed attacks, to the fighting within South Sudan, and to the fighting in Kadugli town, as well as in Darfur and South Kordofan states. Furthermore, during the rainy season from June to the end of September of every year, demining operations are not possible due to poor road conditions.


UNISFA allocated US$25.4 million for the period 01 July 2015 to 30 June 2016 to support UNMAS activities and UNMAS is fully funded to 30 June 2016. Funding of US$20.3 million to cover activities for 01 July 2016 to 30 June 2017 was requested from UNISFA.

Updated May 2016

Programme of:


ACHIEVEMENTS (November 2011 – April 2016)

  • Verified 154.1km and cleared 157.1km of priority routes within Abyei, enabling freedom of movement of UNISFA, JBVMM, humanitarian actors, and civilians.
  • Surveyed 183 communities within Abyei for mine and ERW contamination, ensuring the safety of UNISFA personnel and communities.
  • Released 590,898 sqm of land through battle area clearance, ensuring that the areas are free of explosive hazards.
  • Destroyed 3,001 ERW items, three anti-personnel mines, three anti-tank mines, and 636 kilograms of small arms ammunition.
  • Supported UNISFA in the destruction of 92 weapons including 88 AK assault rifles, two G3 assault rifles, one PKM machine gun, and one shotgun along with 5,426 items of small arms ammunition. Also developed standard operating procedures on weapons and ammunition management as constructed the weapons and ammunition storage facilities.
  • Delivered mine risk education for 653 UNISFA personnel, 39 staff of UN agencies and some 45,000 men, women, boys, and girls.
  • Delivered integrated ground patrol training for 159 JBVMM personnel as well as the UNDSS Safe and Secure Approaches in Field Environments training for 80 UNISFA and other UN agencies in Abyei.







UNISFA Conducts First Weapons and Ammunition Destruction Activity

On 11 November 2015, UNISFA conducted its first weapons and ammunition destruction activity in Abyei. UNMAS took the...