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UN Security Council renews mandate of peacekeeping force in Abyei

UNITED NATIONS, July 14 (Xinhua) -- The UN Security Council on Tuesday extended the mandate of the UN peacekeeping force in Abyei -- a contested region bordering Sudan and South Sudan -- for five months, until Dec. 15.

The extension means that the 4,090 United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) peacekeeping personnel will continue to protect civilians in the resource-rich region, which straddles Sudan and South Sudan.

The UNISFA mission was established by a security council resolution on June 27, 2011 in response to concerns about violence, escalating tensions and population displacement in the weeks before South Sudan became independent from Sudan. The renewal is an extension of UNISFA's current mandate which expires on July 15, 2015.

The new council resolution also renewed calls for the governments of Sudan and South Sudan to "urgently commence the establishment" of the Abyei Area Administration and Council. The 15-nation council called for Sudan and South Sudan to establish an Abyei Police Service "to enable it to take over policing functions throughout the Abyei Area, including the protection of oil infrastructure.

The government of Sudan and representatives of South Sudan committed to the establishment of administrative and police services in Abyei on June 20, 2011.

The renewal will also allow peacekeepers to continue to support the provision of humanitarian assistance to some 81,000 people in the Abyei region currently receiving aid.

The UN currently has peacekeeping missions in Sudan -- the African Union/UN Hybrid operation in Darfur -- and South Sudan -- the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). The resource- rich region is one of the most conflict-affected areas in the world, fueling an extended humanitarian crisis.

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