The Security Council on Wednesday extended until 15 May 2018 the mandate of the United Nations peacekeeping force in Abyei, a contested area on the Sudan-South Sudan border.
Unanimously adopting a resolution, the 15-member body also extended, for the same duration, the tasks of the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) set out in the resolution that authorized the deployment of UNISFA in 2011.
Further, the Council extended until 15 April 2018 UNISFA's support for the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism, which was established by the two countries as part of the negotiations on South Sudan's secession from Sudan in July 2011.
In doing so, however, the Council decided that this renewal of UNISFA's support for the Mechanism will be "the final such extension" unless Sudan and South Sudan ensure the free, unhindered and expeditious movement to and from Abyei and throughout the Safe Demilitarized Border Zone of all personnel, as well as equipment, provisions, supplies and other goods, including vehicles, aircraft, and spare parts, which are for the exclusive and official use of UNISFA.
The Council further decided to maintain the authorized troop ceiling of 4,791 until 15 April 2018, but the ceiling will decrease to 4,235 unless the Council decides to extend UNISFA's support for the Mechanism.