Last week, the Ngok Dinka community of the contested Abyei region that lies between Sudan and South Sudan announced the results of a historic unilateral referendum. Over 99 percent of Ngok Dinka voted in an expression of collective will to transfer Abyei from Sudan’s sovereignty to South Sudan. Read More »
I am currently in Kou Kou Angarana, Chad which is less than 30 miles from the Chad-Sudan border. I’ve been in this area for almost two weeks visiting Djabal and Goz Amer refugee camps for the Enough Project’s Darfur Dream Team Sister Schools Program, or DDT and have just a few days remaining in my trip. Read More »
On October 31, 2013, residents of the contested Abyei region that lies between Sudan and South Sudan announced the results of a historic unilateral referendum to join South Sudan. This Enough Project report contextualizes the Ngok Dinka community's vote to join South Sudan and calls for the U.S. and the African Union to take immediate action to help determine Abyei’s final status.
Enough Project Urges US and African Union to Act on Abyei
Frustrated residents of the contested Abyei region that lies between Sudan and South Sudan announced the results of a historic unilateral referendum on Thursday. A new Enough Project reportcontextualizes the Ngok Dinka community's vote to join South Sudan and calls for the U.S. and the African Union to take immediate action to help determine Abyei’s final status.
The fate of Abyei is one of the most important issues left unresolved since South Sudan became an independent state in 2011. The region is home to the Ngok Dinka and the Misseriya, nomadic Arab herders, who migrate across the Abyei region twice a year. The two groups have lived there together in mutual interdependence, but a long history of unfulfilled promises for self-determination and the politicization of Abyei’s final status has raised tensions. In 2008 and 2011, Sudanese army attacks left towns burned to the ground, and resulted in the displacement of 120,000 people.
The report,"What Happens to a Dream Deferred" calls on the African Union to carry out its intended visit to the region, report on key findings, outline a clear timeline for a credible and internationally-sanctioned vote as called for in the African Union’s proposal, and hold Sudan to its existing wealth-sharing promises for Abyei.
Akshaya Kumar, Sudan and South Sudan Policy Analyst, and co-author of the report, says, "The people of Abyei's dreams have been deferred for too long. Unless the African Union makes it clear that it is willing to stand behind President Mbeki's proposal, violence could once again seize the region."
Over 99 percent of the Ngok Dinka who voted on the unilateral ballot expressed a desire to transfer the Abyei territory from Sudan’s sovereignty to South Sudanese control.The Misseriya tribe has now vowed to hold their own referendum to voice their desire to stay with Sudan.
Timothy May, Enough Project Field Researcher, and co-author of the report, says "The Sudanese government already owes both the Ngok Dinka and the Misseriya 2% of the region's oil revenues since 2005. While they might not agree on the area's final status, both groups can work together to push Khartoum to turn over those funds, which could help develop their communities."
Neither Sudan nor South Sudan recognize the validity of the vote. The report authors explain that the Ngok Dinka’s unsanctioned vote is an expression of collective will and should be seen as a precursor to an internationally-recognized referendum for the disputed area.
John Prendergast, Enough Project Co-Founder, explains, "Abyei's peace can be secured only by honoring the multiple past agreements allowing its residents to vote on their future. The UN peacekeeping mission led by Ethiopia acts as a deterrent to armed conflict, but they cannot stay forever. The international community must use this moment to support a lasting resolution."
The last two times the Sudan government perpetrated horrific attacks against civilian populations in the disputed territory of Abyei, a Connecticut-sized political football contested by both Sudan and South Sudan, we visited with the survivors after the fact. Read More »
It seems as though Sudan’s peaceful protest movement, which took on a more subdued tone after the state security forces’ mass detentions and shoot-to-kill policies, has been lost in translation as well. Read More »
Clooney's Satellite Sentinel Issues Human Security Alert for Sudan's South Kordofan and Abyei
The Satellite Sentinel Project, which George Clooney founded along with John Prendergast in 2010, is issuing a human security warning for civilians living south of Kadugli in Sudan’s South Kordofan state and for those in the hotly contested Abyei area. Satellite images reviewed by DigitalGlobe Analytics show unusually high levels of activity at several Sudan Armed Forces, or SAF, military installations in Sudan’s North and South Kordofan states, which could signal planned deployments toward several locations, including the highly contested Abyei area. DigitalGlobe satellite imagery also corroborates earlier reports of SAF destruction at Buram bridge in September 2013. The bridge destruction isolates two rebel-held towns, Tess and Buram, leaving civilians vulnerable to attack from SAF troops based nearby.
The destruction of Buram bridge, the increased troop buildup, and the appearance of new ground and air materiel at several military installations collectively point to a possible new SAF military campaign before the end of the rainy season. Hundreds of thousands of Sudanese civilians in South Kordofan are potentially at risk.
Akshaya Kumar, Sudan and South Sudan Policy Analyst at the Enough Project said:
“Our ongoing satellite surveillance of Sudan can do more than document abuses after they happen. By combining credible information from citizen journalists in South Kordofan with analysis of satellite imagery, we're shining a spotlight on the potential for an attack, even before troops deploy. ”
Satellite Sentinel Project Co-Founder John Prendergast added,
“The Sudanese government has repeatedly bombed this area and denied humanitarian access to people for years. The military buildup that is growing at once across several areas is a chilling indication of what could quickly escalate, particularly with the planned referendum in Abyei. The international community must send a strong signal to the Sudanese government it will not tolerate attacks on innocent Sudanese civilians and the deliberate destruction of homes and farmland.”
DigitalGlobe satellites and the Enough Project analysts will continue to monitor the Abyei area and watch for increased activity near Buram and Kadugli. The Satellite Sentinel Project will issue additional alerts on signs of the Sudanese army's southbound movement.