Earlier today the Security Council voted to renew the mandate for the peacekeeping mission in the disputed region of Abyei, the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA). The resolution also expanded the missions mandate to support the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism (JBVMM) by patrolling, monitoring, securing and reporting on the contentious border between Sudan and South Sudan.
Today’s resolution also authorizes UNISFA to facilitate talks between Sudan and South Sudan to support in developing mechanisms to manage the border. Additionally, the mandate was also expanded for UNISFA to operate throughout the 12 mile wide Safe Demilitarized Border Zone along the border between Sudan and South Sudan in addition to Abyei. This development has the potential to assist in the de-escalation of the recent clashes between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and Sudanese People Liberation Army (SPLA) along the border town of Jau and prevent future attacks along the border.
UNISFA was established this past June in response to the invasion of the Abyei region by the Government of Sudan causing over 110,000 Ngok Dinka civilians to flee to South Sudan. The mission was initially mandated to monitor and verify the redeployment of military forces from Sudan and South Sudan as well as to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid. So far 2,872 of the 4,200 authorized Ethiopian peacekeepers have been deployed, however, despite their presence civilians have not returned to their homes as a result of existence of landmines and Sudanese military personnel.
While the expansion of the UNISFA mandate is a positive step, nearly the entire Ngok Dinka population remains displaced and the UN Security Council has failed to take any action to protect civilians in the neighboring state of South Kordofan and Blue Nile where over 348,000 Sudanese have fled their homes. The international community appears to be highly infected with conflict fatigue and has failed to take significant action to impose consequences or even substantially admonish Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and his regime despite the fact that over half a million Sudanese civilians have been displaced in 2011.