Abyei situation tense as peacekeepers deployed

More than 500 UN peacekeepers have been deployed to the disputed town of Abyei in Sudan, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Alain Le Roy, told the Security Council on Thursday.

Le Roy said the situation in the Abyei area was tense but that both sides were committed to preventing any further escalation in conflict. The UNIFSA deployment will act as a buffer zone in the Abyei area. The Sudanese Armed Forces have indicated their willingness to withdraw following the UNIFSA deployment. A total of 4,200 military personnel are expected to join the new UN Interim Security Force for Abyei or UNISFA.

The oil rich border town of Abyei was the scene of renewed violence in May 2011 after Sudanese Government forces took over the area forcing more than 100,000 people to flee.

Le Roy said that it was unlikely those who had fled Abyei will return before the full deployment of the peacekeeping force and the withdrawal of the Sudanese Armed Forces.