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‘Security deteriorating rapidly’ in Abyei on Sudan-South Sudan border

December 25 - 2019 ABYEI
Abyei (Map: OCHA)
Abyei (Map: OCHA)

The security situation in the disputed area of Abyei on the Sudan-South Sudan border is deteriorating rapidly, the head of the Abyei civil society reported on Tuesday.

At a press conference on Tuesday, civil society leader Clinton Yak condemned the many human rights violations occurring in the region.

More than a dozen people were recently killed by militiamen stationed in Abyei, he said.

According to Yak the recurrent attacks, especially in the north-eastern part of Abyei aim to displace the indigenous people from the area.

He said that Abyei civil society leaders intend to deliver a memorandum to the Sovereign Council and the Council of Ministers concerning the increasing violence against civilians.

“We hold the government of Sudan responsible for the attacks. We demand the removal of all militias and other armed groups from Abyei, and demilitarisation of the area,” the activist said.

“The oil fields in the area should be protected by regional police forces and not by government militias,” he added.

He further urged the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) to carry out its responsibilities and implement its mandate to protect civilians in the region.

‘The Abyei oil fields should be protected by regional police forces, not govt militias…’ – Clinton Yak

According to Yak, the conflict of interests concerning Abyei is affecting the region. Therefore, he demanded the governments of Sudan and South Sudan to recognise the outcomes of the Abyei informal referendum or to hold a new referendum under international supervision.

Border dispute

Since the secession of South Sudan from Sudan in 2011, both countries claim the border area of Abyei. The region is inhabited primarily by members of the South Sudanese Dinka Ngok clan. It is also the seasonal home of the Sudanese Arab Misseriya herders’ tribe.

The Abyei status referendum, in which the residents of the region would decide either to remain part of Sudan or become part of South Sudan, was planned to be held simultaneously to the South Sudanese independence referendum in January 2011, but was postponed indefinitely because of disagreements over the process.

In October 2013, an informal referendum was held, in which only the Dinka participated. The Misseriya boycotted the vote. It turned out that 99.9 per cent of the voters considered Abyei a part of South Sudan.

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