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UNISFA concerned over relocation of UN troops, closure of sites

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September 5, 2021 (ABYEI) - The United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) has expressed grave concern over the forced relocations of UN troops as well as closure of Kiir Adem and Abar team site in Aweil North and Aweil East counties of Northern Bahr el Ghazal state.

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The map of Northern Bahr el Ghazal in red.

This comes after petitioners, on 11 August 2021, demanded the withdrawal of UNISFA troops gathered outside Sector 1 HQ in Gok Machar and forcibly entered the camp. This resulted in the destruction and looting of UN assets.

Similarly, on 13 August, petitioners with identical demands gathered outside War Abar (TS 12) team site but to prevent escalation of the situation, UNISFA was forced to relocate from TS 11 and TS 12 to Sector HQ in Gok Machar.

The community of Aweil North County also demanded complete withdrawal of UN peacekeepers in Abyei and the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism (JBVMM) team from Sector HQ in Gok Machar “within 48 hours”.

There were also several threats of violence against UNISFA and the JBVMM team, with communities accusing UNISFA of “biased patrolling” in the SBDZ and siding with Sudan “to annex part of their territory.”

In September 2012, Sudan and South Sudan agreed to the establishment of the SBDZ to be monitored by the JBVMM.

UNISFA said it has regularly engaged with the Government of South Sudan on this matter and requested for sensitization of local authorities and communities on JBVMM’s mandate and the rationale for its presence in the team sites.

This engagement, it noted, was either through face-to-face meetings with Government representatives on 28 July and on 11 August 2021, or through formal written communications on 23 July and 11, 15, 19 and 23 August 2021.

UNISFA was established in 2011 by the UN Security Council to monitor the Abyei border. It is mainly composed of Ethiopian forces of around 4,200 troops and 50 police personnel.

(ST)

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