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Report of the Secretary-General on the situation in Abyei (S/2016/864) [EN/AR]

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I. Introduction

1. The present report is submitted pursuant to paragraph 27 of Security Council resolution 2287 (2016), 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/2016/353) on 15 April 2016 to 14 October 2016. It also presents the progress made in the implementation of additional tasks mandated under Council resolution 2024 (2011) relating to the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism.

II. Security situation

2. The security situation in the Abyei Area remained unpredictable but generally calm. UNISFA continued to conduct operations to maintain peace and stability. It conducted 16,047 day and night patrols, undertook 2,968 escorts and facilitated 243 joint security committee meetings with community leaders in the Abyei Area.

3. The Government of the Sudan continued to maintain between 120 and 150 oil police personnel inside the Diffra oil complex, in violation of the Agreement of 20 June 2011 and several Security Council resolutions. There were also reports of elements of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) present within the Abyei Area. On 8 May, an armed South Sudanese soldier on leave, who was seen threatening a villager with his rifle in Agok in the southern sector, was disarmed by UNISFA troops and handed over to the Agok community protection committee.

4. As noted in my previous report, the conflict prevention and mitigation strategy adopted by UNISFA for the previous dry season involved the creation of a line of disengagement between the Misseriya and Ngok Dinka communities. The Force’s planned and selective relaxing of the line of disengagement enabled Misseriya access to grazing land and water in the southern part of the Abyei Area. It also allowed the Ngok Dinka to return, for the first time since the 2011 conflict, to nine villages north of river Kiir. With the onset of the rainy season in June, the reverse migration northward of the Misseriya, comprising about 35,000 people, was largely peaceful, in contrast to the spate of violence that has traditionally characterized the reverse migration.

5. The grazing by Misseriya-owned herds in areas inhabited by Ngok Dinka resulted in some instances of cattle rustling. As part of fostering reconciliation and peaceful coexistence, several instances of the return of rustled cattle by both sides were facilitated by UNISFA. Significant progress was observed in the monitoring of stolen property and livestock by the two communities and in the prompt return of or provision of compensation for stolen property to victims of crime. On 25 April, responding to reports of cattle rustling by unknown persons in the central sector, a Ngok Dinka community leader handed back cattle to a Misseriya community leader in the presence of UNISFA representatives. In a gesture of reciprocation, on 4 May, cattle reported missing by the Ngok Dinka at Noong were recovered and handed over by Misseriya community leaders. Intercommunity cooperation extended to other potentially disruptive criminal incidents: on 28 April, Misseriya community leaders compensated the family of a Ngok Dinka stabbed to death on 1 April at Noong. The victim’s stolen motorbike was also returned.

6. Criminality was largely intra-ethnic. On 10 June, a Ngok Dinka man, armed with an AK-47 rifle, attacked three Ngok Dinka community protection committee members for unknown reasons in the general area of Agok, killing two and seriously injuring one. The assailant later killed himself. On 27 April, a Ngok Dinka man shot dead another Ngok Dinka man in Abyei town. Similarly, on 10 May, a Misseriya cattle herder was stabbed to death in a fight with another Misseriya cattle herder, 8 km from Tajalei in the southern sector.

7. In relation to security incidents concerning UNISFA operations, on 3 August, unknown armed persons fired machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades near the UNISFA Tajalei company operating base in the southern sector. UNISFA troops conducted a patrol in the suspected area and recovered two expended rockets, nine live rounds and 23 fired cartridges.