UN Mission in Abyei gets new force commander

Major General Benjamin Olufemi Sawyerr

By Okech Francis

The United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) has got a new force commander who will also serve as acting Head of Mission, Major General Benjamin Olufemi Sawyerr from Ethiopia.

Gen. Sawyerr who officially assumed office on March 15 replaces Ethiopia’s Major General Kefyalew Amde Tessema who has served the mission for close to two years, the UN Mission said in an emailed statement on Wednesday.

UNISFA is a force deployed in the contested Abyei region on the border of South Sudan and Sudan.

The indeginous Dinka Ngok and nomadic Miserriya tribe from Sudan have often had clashes which led to grave fatalities.

Ethiopia has been the only troop contributing country since the establishment of UNISFA in 2011 and has played a critical role in the prevention of conflict and advancement of the political process towards a sustainable solution for Abyei but now peacekeepers will be multinational, UNISFA said.

During the transfer of authority ceremony at the Missions Headquarters in Abyei, General Sawyerr applauded the mandate implementation achievements of the Ethiopian peacekeepers and lauded them for immensely contributing and sacrificing in pursuit of peace and security in the Abyei Area, the UNISFA statement said.

He pledged to work closely with local and national authorities towards achieving the UNISFA mandate, it said.

The outgoing force commander, General Tessema meanwhile thanked UNISFA peacekeepers for their “selfless sacrifice towards the effective implementation of the mission’s mandate,” UNISFA said.

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