UNISFA’s JBVMM pushes Safe De-militarized Border Zone operations to end deadlock
The Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism (JBVMM) of the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) undertook a joint reconnaissance between 16 and 22 September 2017. A first of its kind air patrolling operation, it was conducted from the UNISFA Force Headquarters base in Abyei to the proposed team site locations astride the Safe De-militarized Border Zone (SBDZ).
The Joint Recce Team comprised stakeholders including representatives from African Union Border Program Technical Team, National Monitors from Government of Sudan and South Sudan, and UNISFA military operations/technical staff, JBVMM international observers and military operations staff and United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS).
As a prelude to the reconnaissance, the joint recce team conducted detailed discussions, conferences, co-ordinations between various stakeholders and reached a consensus on the operational plan of the recce before launching the air patrol.
The air patrolling operation carried out recce of three distinct JBVMM proposed team site locations namely Safahah (Kiir Adim), As-Sumayh (Majak Kol) and Tishwin (Takshwin) which are located within the SDBZ.
Performed by air hovering operations close to the proposed team site locations and areas around them, the recce was significant as it enabled the team to fly at a low altitude to verify and monitor the situation on the ground. The three-team site locations were marked on an operational map and unanimously certified by all the joint recce team members.
In September 2012, Sudan and South Sudan agreed to establish the SDBZ that would run 10 km along either side of a center line. The SDBZ was to be monitored by the JBVMM. As part of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2024, UNISFA was additionally mandated to carry out within its authorized capabilities and within an expanded operational area to include the SBDZ, JBVMM headquarters, sector headquarters and team sites.
Currently the JBVMM Headquarters and the Sector 2 Headquarters are located at Kadaguli in Sudan and the Sector 1 Headquarters at Gok Machar in South Sudan. Both sectors undertake operational activities that are heavily affected by the absence of team site locations.
Hence, the recce is considered as a significant progress to break the operational deadlock and serve as a stepping stone for the JBVMM along with associated stakeholders to implement its mandate. The establishment of team sites will facilitate JBVMM’s missions such as patrols, monitoring security situation, verifications, investigations, arbitrations, liaison/coordination, reporting, and information exchange within the SDBZ.