- The present note is submitted pursuant to Security Council resolution 2497 (2019), by which the Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) until 15 May 2020 and requested me to inform it of progress in implementing the UNISFA mandate, in a note, no later than 31 January 2020 and report on progress with the increase in police, the appointment of a civilian Deputy Head of Mission, planning for the reduction of troops, usage of Athony airport and the issuance of visas to support the implementation of the mandate.
Conflict dynamics and security situation in Abyei
Since the issuance of my previous report (S/2019/817), the overall security situation in Abyei has remained fragile, with two major incidents taking place on 19 and 21 January 2020. Prior to that, only occasional armed attacks, mostly linked to criminality, as well as the periodic alleged presence of armed elements, were reported.
There were 19 incidents recorded during the period under review. These include cattle rustling, rape, kidnapping and incidents of killing, such as that of 24 November 2019 in Leu village (Sector South), which resulted in villagers fleeing the area. On 8 December 2019, a group of armed men, who were suspected to be Misseriya, attacked the same village (Leu) and burned down four houses, without any casualties. In addition to the aforementioned incidents, the movement of armed men reported by the local population remained a source of concern, as they enter Abyei, incr easingly from the west, east and south-eastern flanks where UNISFA is not deployed, commit crimes, such as cattle rustling, murder and kidnapping, and subsequently exit Abyei.
On 19 January 2020, an attack that resulted in the death of three Misseriya took place in the Kolom area. Subsequently, UNISFA intensified patrols in the general areas of Dokura/Rumajak, Nainai, Bongak, Kolom, Makir, Noong and Alal, as well as on the route between Dokura/Rumajak and Amiet market. The Mission also reached out to local communities on 20 January to de-escalate tensions. It also maintained a presence in the area of Kolom throughout the night. On 21 January, an armed attack targeting the local Ngok Dinka community in Kolom was reportedly perpetrated by Misseriya armed elements just after the UNISFA patrol moved from the area. The latest casualty report has confirmed the number of deaths at 35 Ngok Dinka. Five Misseriya, suspected to be linked to the attack, were captured by UNISFA and handed over to the representatives of the Government of the Sudan. The Mission has intensified operational activities in the Abyei Area and an investigative team has been convened to investigate the incident.
UNISFA continues to contain the security situation with its rapid response mechanisms and presence in most sensitive areas. In order to enhance its security coverage and ensure the protection of civilians, UNISFA has reviewed its deployment concept in the dry season and is in the process of establishing three new temporary operating bases at Shegeg, Leu and Rumamier to address the threat from the east and south-eastern flanks.
UNISFA has also engaged with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan to establish a collaborative mechanism to address cross-border activities by armed groups. The plan to establish checkpoints to search for weapons and ammunition and control the reported movements of armed elements within the Abyei Area has been discussed with the Governments of the Sudan and South Sudan and will soon be implemented. The full operationalization of the Joint Military Observer Committee and the joint military observer team mechanisms has also received the backing of the two Governments. Hence, joint ground monitoring missions of both South Sudanese and Sudanese national monitors in Abyei Area are expected to commence in due course