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UN approves 'final' extension of Abyei peace mission

© AFP | Ethiopian peacekeepers from the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) patrol Abyei town at night in December, 2016

UNITED NATIONS (UNITED STATES) (AFP) - 

The UN Security Council on Thursday approved a final extension of its peacekeeping mission in the disputed Abyei region between Sudan and South Sudan -- unless the two sides make progress on border demarcation and other benchmarks.

In its unanimous decision, the Security Council extended for six months the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei but said "this shall be the final such extension unless the parties take the specific measures."

It repeated a previous warning that the situation in Abyei and along the Sudan-South Sudan border "continues to constitute a serious threat to international peace," and called on the two countries to show concrete progress on border demarcation and monitoring, as well as other benchmarks.

Abyei is an area of about 4,000 square miles (10,500 square kilometers) contested since Sudan split into two countries in 2011.

There have been tensions between the Arab Misseriya and Ngok Dinka peoples of the region.

Sudan and South Sudan years ago agreed to take steps for setting up an administrative structure for Abyei but the Security Council in May, when it last renewed UNISFA's mandate, expressed disappointment that "few steps" had been taken in that direction.

In November 2015, shelling in Abyei killed a four-year-old girl and a UNISFA peacekeeper.

Almost the entire UNISFA contingent of several thousand troops comes from Ethiopia.

© 2018 AFP