Head of UN Peacekeeping in Washington to Focus on Abyei Crisis

As our own South Sudan based UN Dispatcher Maggie Fick wrote earlier this week, there has been a sharp resumption of conflict between South Sudan and the central government in Khartoum.

At a meeting at the Henry L. Stimson Center in Washington, DC yesterday the head of UN Peacekeeping Alan Le Roy called the Sudanese Armed Forces incursion into Abyei a “clear breach of the Comprehensive Peace Accord.”  Earlier in the day, he held what one UN official described to me as a “meeting of the minds” with teams from the State Department and National Security Council to discuss ways to mitigate the crisis in Abyei.

Khartoum has signaled that they will only withdraw their forces from Abyei when they have some sort of ‘security guarantee.’ According to a UN official, one potential option is to deploy a beefed up contingent from the UN peacekeeping mission in Sudan (UNMIS) to Abyei.  That contingent would probably have to be African — which is a condition that Khartoum routinely applies to peacekeepers in Sudan proper —  so it might take some time to find and equip these potential troops.

So, this is where the current diplomatic focus is. According to the UN official, we should know within a week to ten days whether or not it bears fruit.

In the meantime, the UN peacekeeping Mission in Sudan, UNMIS, just posted these photos of the aftermath of the attack on Abyei. Photo Credit: UNMIS/Stuart Price.  Full gallery here.