The United Nations Security Council voted 15-0 today to deploy 4,200 Ethiopian soldiers to the Sudanese region of Abyei, a peacekeeping mission that will allow the withdrawal of forces of northern and Southern Sudan.
Northern and Southern Sudan agreed on June 20 to withdraw their troops from the disputed border region. Sudan’s army seized the main town in Abyei on May 21 after accusing Southern Sudan’s security forces of attacking its forces.
The south is due to become independent on July 9. Fighting in Abyei and the northern Sudanese border state of Southern Kordofan has raised concern of a return to the two-decade civil war in sub-Saharan Africa’s third-biggest oil producer that ended in 2005.
The draft resolution creates a UN Interim Security Force for Abyei for a period of six months, with a mandate that includes providing security for oil facilities in the area “when necessary and in cooperation with the Abyei Police Service.” The Ethiopians would also “monitor and verify” the withdrawal of the northern and Southern Sudanese forces and facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid.
Since the Sudanese army’s occupation of Abyei, about 113,000 people have fled their homes, according to the UN.