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Report of the Secretary-General on the situation in Abyei (S/2016/353) [EN/AR]

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I. Introduction

  1. The present report is submitted pursuant to paragraph 27 of Security Council resolution 2251 (2015), in which the Council requested me to continue to inform it of progress in the implementation of the mandate of the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) and to bring to its immediate attention any serious violation of the Agreement between the Government of the Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement on temporary arrangements for the administration and security of the Abyei Area, of 20 June 2011 (S/2011/384, annex). The report provides an update on the situation in Abyei and on the deployment and operations of UNISFA from the issuance of my previous report (S/2015/870) on 13 November 2015, to 31 March 2016. It also presents the progress made in the implementation of the additional tasks mandated under Council resolution 2024 (2011) relating to the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism and provides a recommendation on the extension of the UNISFA mandate.

II. Security situation

2. The security situation in the Abyei Area remained unpredictable but generally calm during the reporting period. The Government of the Sudan continued to maintain between 120 and 150 oil personnel inside the Diffra oil complex, in violation of the Agreement of 20 June 2011 and various Security Council resolutions. An armed South Sudanese soldier was also found within the Abyei Area in violation of the Agreement and relevant Council resolutions. Following a six-week pause due to flooding, on 11 November UNISFA observed the resumption of excavation work by the Government of the Sudan, which was designed to improve the Diffra oil installation defences, in the presence of some 30 armed police officers. In December 2015, contractors from the Sudan finished digging a trench along a circumference of approximately 75 km around the installation, leaving the oil facilities entirely encircled by the trench, but maintaining vehicular access via road. On 25 February, UNISFA troops on a routine patrol in the area of Soheib in the central sector observed the drilling of a water well by a Chinese company in the presence of between 10 and 15 armed security guards, in another violation of the Agreement of 20 June 2011.

3. The dry season began in October following a wet season characterized by a lack of rainfall compared with previous years, especially in northern parts of Abyei. While the rains were sufficient to render roads impassable, rivers and water reservoirs were not filled to their usual levels, raising the prospect that the water table would not be adequately replenished to last throughout the dry season. A lack of water and pasture in northern Abyei led to increased pressure on the Misseriya to migrate into Ngok Dinka-inhabited areas in the south, in particular those on the Bahr al-Arab/Kiir River. Concurrently, a scaling back of food rations in the Agok area south of the Kiir River encouraged Ngok Dinka resettlement to villages north of the river. This movement of both communities increased the risk of clashes during the dry season.

4. The conflict prevention and mitigation strategy adopted by UNISFA in previous dry seasons revolved around the creation of a military line of disengagement between the Misseriya and Ngok Dinka communities. To mitigate the increased risk of conflict during this dry season, UNISFA reinforced the line of disengagement in central areas with a high density of Ngok Dinka and relaxed it in western and eastern areas with a lesser Ngok Dinka population to enable Misseriya access to the grazing land and water available only in the south. This relaxation was made possible through engagement with both communities to identify suitable migration corridors to be used by each community for water and the grazing of cattle and through regular patrols to coordinate the sharing of resources and monitor the movement of cattle herders. The communities themselves were involved in the monitoring of migration activities and in the maintenance of law and order in these areas. During the reporting period, UNISFA conducted 5,582 patrols, both during the day and at night, undertook 1,256 escorts and facilitated 36 joint security committee meetings with community leaders in the Abyei Area.