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Abyei is a border area that currently remains in the state of South Kordofan in Sudan, after secession of the South.
However both Sudan and South Sudan claim the land as their own. The area provides a potential flashpoint for a return to war. The nomadic Misseriya tribe of South Kordofan use the area for grazing rights, as they travel south with their animals every rainy season. The Dinka Ngok of South Sudan claim the land belongs to them.
A referendum was originally scheduled to resolve the dispute in January but the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) refused to allow the Misseriya to vote, claiming that as nomads who only enter the region once a year they cannot be considered residents of the area.
Sudan's army moved to Abyei in May and occupied the area stating the SPLA entered the area in December 2010. There were reports of stationed tanks and heavy ground fighting between the two sides. The Sudan air force also reportedly shelled the area, slamming a UN base with mortar rounds.
After the offensive 100,000 people fled to South Sudan.
UN peacekeepers were supposed to deploy to replace the Sudan army in July.
On 20 June 2011 both sides signed an agreement in Addis Ababa to withdraw their troops from the area in September, to allow planning for an adminstrative unit. But by the end of 2011 this was still not achieved.
A deadlock was reported in December. The Sudan armed forces would only withdraw their forces from the area if they could keep a military and civilian police presence. South Sudan said that this was still an occupation, and would not negotiate or withdraw their troops if this remained the case.
In December the United Nations Security Council expanded the peacekeepers' mandate for a further five months.