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Situation in Abyei - Report of the Secretary-General (S/2022/316) [EN/AR]


I. Introduction

1 . The present report is submitted pursuant to paragraph 34 of Security Council resolution 2609 (2021), in which the Council requested to be informed of progress in implementing the mandate of the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA). It covers the period since the issuance of the previous report (S/2021/881) of the Secretary-General, from 16 October 2021 to 15 April 2022. The report provides updates on, inter alia, political, security, human rights, rule of law and humanitarian developments, as well as progress towards the transition of UNISFA into a United Nations multinational peacekeeping force.

II. Abyei

Political developments

2 . During the reporting period, a joint session of the Joint Political and Security Mechanism and the Joint Border Commission was held on 21 October 2021, in Juba, with the Chief of the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism representing UNISFA and that Mechanism. In the outcome document of the meeting, the two bodies underscored their commitment to enhancing the awareness of local communities and the wider public of the agreement between the Sudan and South Sudan on the Safe Demilitarized Border Zone.

3 . From 26 to 30 November 2021, the Sudanese Co-Chair of the Abyei Joint Oversight Committee, Major General Mohamed Alawi Koko, undertook a working visit in the Abyei Area, where he interacted with members of the Misseriya community in Diffra, Goli and the Amiet market and conveyed his commitment to supporting the strengthening of basic service delivery and administration in the northern part of Abyei. On 29 November, he met with UNISFA leadership in Todach (Sector North) and discussed the security situation and the stalemate in the local peace process.

4 . On 9 December 2021, the acting Head of Mission and Force Commander, Major General Kefyalew Amde Tessema, met in Khartoum with senior officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to discuss operational matters and to update the Sudanese authorities on the progress made in the reconfiguration of UNISFA into a United Nations multinational peacekeeping force.

5 . On 22 February 2022, the mission leadership met with seven members of the parliament of South Sudan who were in Abyei at the request of the President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir Mayardit, to undertake an assessment of the violence that had erupted in the Agok area (Sector South) in the second week of February between members of the Twic Dinka and Ngok Dinka communities. UNISFA urged the parliamentarians to help de-escalate tensions in southern Abyei, as the security situation was already deemed volatile because of the continued lack of agreement between the Ngok Dinka and Misseriya communities on transhumance modalities.

6 . On 9 March 2022, as part of his familiarization programme, the then Force Commander-designate, Major General Benjamin Olufemi Sawyerr, met with senior Sudanese officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Defence in Khartoum. In Juba, on 14 March, he met with the Minister for Foreign Affairs of South Sudan, the Minister of Defence, the Chief of Defence Staff, the Presidential Adviser on Security Affairs and Chair of the national committee on the final status of Abyei, the Co-Chair for South Sudan of the Abyei Joint Oversight Committee, and the Minister for East African Community Affairs.

7 . UNISFA leadership met on 1 and 17 March 2022 with administrative and traditional leaders based in Abyei town. On 17 March, the new acting Head of Mission and Force Commander, Major General Sawyerr, met with the Juba-appointed Chief Administrator, Kuol Diem Kuol, and the Ngok Dinka Paramount Chief, Bulabek Deng Kuol, to discuss security, the rule of law, intercommunity dialogue and the mission transition. The Paramount Chief acknowledged the service provided by UNISFA in protecting civilians, as demonstrated by the mission’s role in assisting victims of the recent attacks in the area of Agok, as well as its enhanced patrolling to deter future attacks. The mission also provided shelter in Agok to those affected by the violence.

8 . On 22 March, Major General Sawyerr paid a courtesy visit to the Khartoumappointed Chief Administrator in Diffra, Gumaa Dawood Musa Hamdan, and interacted separately with the Misseriya traditional leadership led by the Paramount Chief, Mukhtar Babo Nimir. As he had done with authorities in Abyei town, the acting Head of Mission and Force Commander reassured interlocutors that there would b e no security gap during the transition period.

9 . On 25 and 30 March, Major General Sawyerr met with the fifth Vice-President of South Sudan, Hussein Abdelbagi Akol Agany, who visited Abyei as the leader of a South Sudanese fact-finding team looking into the outbreak of violence in the area of Agok between 10 and 12 February. In this connection, on 5 April, Major General Sawyerr met with representatives of civil society and of women’s and youth organizations based in Abyei town to clarify the mandate of UNISFA and invite them to raise awareness of the peace process in their communities. On 7 April, he interacted with local officials and internally displaced persons in Abathok and Agok (Sector South) to assess how they could best be supported following the a ttacks of February 2022.

10 . No visible progress was made in advancing negotiations on the final status of Abyei.