Since 2011, the status of the Abyei Area has remained a contentious issue between Sudan and South Sudan. Fighting between the Sudan People’s Liberation Army and the Sudan Armed Forces in the Abyei Area escalated and resulted in the total destruction of Abyei town and surrounding villages. Clashes 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.
UNMAS role in UNISFA originates from UN Security Council Resolution 1990, which established the mission and recognized the need for demining assistance. A mine incident in August 2011, which killed four UNISFA peacekeepers and injured seven others, further affirmed the criticality of mine action as an essential mission enabler in the area of operations.
UNMAS role in UNISFA is clearly stated in Security Council resolutions on UNISFA, including the most recent, UN S/RES 2318 (2016). The resolution continues to demand “…deployment of UNMAS to ensure JBVMM freedom of movement, as well as the identification and clearance of mines in the Abyei Area and the Safe Demilitarized Border Zone (SDBZ).”
Furthermore, UNMAS supports UNISFA in weapons and ammunition management (WAM), to mitigate the threat to peace and security in Abyei arising from the illicit transfer, destabilizing accumulation and misuse of small arms and light weapons.
From UNISFA Results Based Framework (A/70/701):
Political commitment of the Governments of Sudan and South Sudan in implementing the various Security Council resolutions relating to the JBVMM and the SDBZ is a significant challenge.
The security situation in UNISFA area of operation is an additional challenge, from incidents in the Abyei Area related to cattle rustling and armed attacks, to the fighting within Sudan and South Sudan. Furthermore, during the rainy season from June to the end of September every year, demining operations are unfeasible due to poor road conditions.
Funding of US$20.3 million to cover activities from 01 July 2016 to 30 June 2017 has been received. UNMAS is fully funded to 30 June 2017.
Updated January 2017