29 April 2010The Security Council today extended for another year the mandate of the United Nations mission supporting the 2005 agreement that ended the decades-long north-south civil war in Sudan, stressing the need to complete all remaining tasks under the peace pact. The Security Council today extended for another year the mandate of the United Nations mission supporting the 2005 agreement that ended the decades-long north-south civil war in Sudan, stressing the need to complete all remaining tasks under the peace pact. In a unanimously adopted resolution, the 15-member body decided to extend the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) until 30 April 2011, “with the intention to renew it for further periods as may be required.”The Council stressed the importance of the “full and expeditious” implementation of all elements of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which ended 20 years of fighting between the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) separatists in the south and the national Government in the north. The parties achieved a key milestone of the agreement – which ended a conflict in which at least 2 million people were killed and some 4.5 million more driven from their homes – with the holding of national elections earlier this month, the first of their kind in 24 years.In addition, referenda are expected to be held next year to determine whether the south secedes or remains as part of Sudan, as well as on the status of the disputed, oil-rich area of Abyei.The Council requested UNMIS to play a lead role in assisting in the preparations for the January 2011 referenda, and urged the international community to provide technical and material assistance as requested.Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in his latest report on UNMIS, said significant challenges remain in the preparation for the referenda. “Although the parties to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement have shown increasing political will to address referendum-related issues, they have made little concrete progress in establishing arrangements that would be required no matter the outcome of the referenda,” he wrote. The Council also today deplored the “persistent localized conflict and violence” and its effect on civilians, especially within Southern Sudan, while underscoring the importance of UNMIS making full use of its authority and capabilities to provide improved security to affected groups.In a related development, UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky told reporters today that UNMIS is investigating a recent incident in the border area of Western Bahr El Ghazal and Southern Darfur states, where there was a significant, but still unconfirmed, number of casualties reported.While the mission is communicating with the parties concerned, verifying the reports on the ground has been difficult from both the north and the south, he said.“The mission calls on all parties concerned and in line with the mandate of the mission to ensure full access to the area, to help establish the facts and defuse tensions,” stated Mr. Nesirky, adding that the safety and security of civilians remains the primary responsibility of the Government of National Unity and the Government of Southern Sudan.