UN Peacekeeping chief, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, has raised concern about “trust deficit” between the two main communities in the disputed Abyei region between Sudan and South Sudan.
Lacroix told the Security Council on Thursday at UN headquarters, New York that trust between the two communities had continued to be a great concern.
The UN correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) report that Lacroix briefed the Council on the work of UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) and the UN Interim Security Force in the oil-rich border area.
He urged the Council to extend its mandate for another six months, through October 15.
The Force has supported dialogue between the nomadic Misseriya and pastoral Ngok Dinka communities, including to address incidents of violence that occurred in recent months.
Last week alone, 29 people were killed, and 30 wounded, in intercommunal clashes.
“These deaths and injuries could have been avoided had there been more trust between the two communities at all levels,” Lacroix said.
He said the government of the two countries should renew their engagement while UNISFA continued its community engagement, stepped up patrols, and encouraged use of conflict resolution mechanisms.
“It is – first and foremost – for the Governments of the Sudan and South Sudan to renew their engagement on the final status of Abyei,” he added.
Lacroix urged ambassadors to continue to support the Abyei Joint Programme to promote areas of shared interest for the two communities, such as transhumance, border management, and protection mechanisms for women, children and vulnerable groups.
The UN peacekeeping chief said significant progress had been made since the programme was proposed in September, and consultations with women, youth, elders and other community members were now at an advanced stage.
According to him, UNISFA continues to face challenges in documenting human rights violations due to a lack of expertise.
He said that although a team was granted temporary visas in order to conduct an assessment mission in March.
“There was also small but important progress with regard to the Parties’ obligations towards improving the meaningful participation of women in decision-making.
“In the Ngok Dinka community, a woman was appointed in each of the 13 traditional courts,” he added.
Lacroix further reported that the humanitarian situation in Abyei had deteriorated since his last briefing in October, with the number of people requiring aid rising from 103,000 to 240,000.
This was largely due to deadly violence between Twic Dinka and Ngok Dinka communities earlier in the year that left more than 25 people dead, including two humanitarian workers.