In recent weeks, inter-communal violence has engulfed Sudan's disputed Abyei region. Escalating tensions between Abyei's Ngok Dinka community and the nomadic Misseriya group, which are fueled by the area's unresolved status, have been exacerbated by the internal conflict in South Sudan, which has caused some to fear that Abyei has fallen from the South Sudanese political agenda. A new policy alert by the Enough Project warns of the potentially devastating consequences of this dichotomy of escalating conflict and limited attention by external actors. If a concerted commitment to resolving Abyei’s final status is not undertaken by the two governments and the international community, these clashes between Abyei's communities may spiral into a regionalized war. Read More »
In recent weeks, South Sudanese civil society organizations have taken a public stand demanding more action against the atrocities being committed in their country. Although the AU Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) called for the creation of an AU-led Commission of Inquiry in December 2013, the appointment of members was stalled until the first week of March 2014. Read More »
Sudanese police forces fired tear gas at over 1,000 mourners at the funeral procession on Wednesday, March 13, of a Junior University of Khartoum Economics major student who was killed by government forces on Tuesday, March 12. Ali Abakar Musa’s death heralded a new bout of protests marked by the new shoot-to-kill policies utilized by government forces to quell protests on the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Sudan and the renewed crisis in Darfur. Protesters marched in fury chanting slogans that ranged from “the killing of a student, the killing of a nation” and for the “downfall of the regime” while avenging the death of a student and calling for a new revolution against Bashir’s ruling regime. Read More »
In the wake of renewed violence in the contested Abyei region that lies between Sudan and South Sudan, a new Enough Project policy alert warns that intercommunal attacks with unclear degrees of state support are risking a conflagration within Abyei that threatens to drag both countries back into conflict. Looming Crisis: Open Wounds in Abyei Increase Risk of New War urges UNISFA to facilitate demilitarization of the area and calls on national, regional, and international stakeholders to move to resolve the final status of Abyei.
Abyei is home to the Ngok Dinka semi-sedentary communities, and the nomadic Misseriya migrate across the area annually to graze their cattle and access water sources. Due to long-term grievances that the promised referendum will never occur and Abyei has been abandoned, the Ngok Dinka are now challenging the Misseriya’s traditional, annual migration south ahead of the rainy season. The current violence is threatening the livelihood of the Misseriya and exacerbating already high tensions.
Since early February, attacks on communities and cattle have been reported in the villages of Makir, Athony, Marial Achak, Todac, and Dungop, killing dozens and causing hundreds of civilians to flee Abyei. The policy alert states that state and non-state actors have been active in and around the Abyei area, including 660 forces from South Sudan’s SPLA, 150 Sudanese police officers, and non-state actors and rebel groups loyal to Khartoum and Juba.
Maiwen Dot Pheot, Enough Research Associate and author of the policy alert, says,
“These political maneuvers come at a very expensive cost for civilians in the Abyei area. The Ngok Dinka people who were gradually returning to their areas for the last two years are now being displaced again. On the other hand, the Misseriya nomads will face challenges moving southward due to fears of reprisal attacks by the Ngok Dinka. The international community must redouble efforts to help local community leaders and governments in Juba and Khartoum to find a lasting solution to this potential powder keg."
In order to prevent the escalation of violence, the policy alert calls for the demilitarization of the region, which Sudan and South Sudan committed to three years ago. However, while demilitarization could quell future violence, a lasting solution to Abyei's conflict depends on determining the final status of the area. Therefore, the policy brief calls on Sudan and South Sudan to resume talks on Abyei and urges international stakeholders, including the African Union Peace and Security Council, to push for a lasting solution to the Abyei conflict based on the AUHIP’s proposal on Abyei. Only through the resolution of Abyei's political status will the people of the area be able to return to peaceful coexistence.
In Abyei, a small but strategically important disputed area on the border between Sudan and South Sudan, rising inter-communal tensions have resulted in a marked escalation in conflict in recent weeks.
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