The United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) on Tuesday strongly condemned attacks by a group of armed youths on villages in the disputed Abyei region between Sudan and South Sudan which resulted in an estimated 27 people killed and 14 injured.
The organization denied reports published in the media claiming UNISFA peacekeepers were killed or wounded during the incident.
In response to the attacks, UNISFA said in a statement that it rushed to enhance security in the affected area by intensifying patrols and closely monitoring the situation.
UNISFA leadership was also engaging with the Abyei Area Administration and Ngok Dinka traditional leadership and stakeholders in Juba to ensure peace and security are maintained in the Abyei area.
UNISFA’s Acting Head of Mission and Force Commander, Major General Benjamin Olufemi Sawyerr, reiterated the mission’s commitment to protecting civilians and called on all communities to refrain from violence and commit to ensuring sustainable peace in Abyei.
– Troika worry
Meanwhile, the Troika embassies (Norway, the UK, and the US) in Juba expressed their concern about “ongoing violence in Rumameer County, Abyei Administrative Area and Twic County, Warrap State.”
The Troika expressed its deepest condolences to the families and communities where casualties have occurred.
The statement called for calm and restraint and urged all those in a position to influence the communities involved to take all appropriate steps to prevent further escalation and push for an end to the violence.
“We renew our calls upon the Transitional Government to urgently withdraw its troops in line with its commitments under the 2011 Status of Forces Agreement.”
– Abyei Democratic Movement
Abyei Democratic Movement (ADM), a peaceful political movement, said that the villages were attacked by a force affiliated with the South Sudan Defense Forces, the 3rd Division, led by Major General Akoy Ajo, and the militias of the Twic Waqai Machik tribe.
It noted that the former Minister of Infrastructure in the local government, Miot Konet, was assassinated, and 31 civilians were killed and 20 others injured during the attack.
The movement condemned the attacks on the villages, holding the UNISFA forces responsible for failing to protect civilians.
The Sudan-South Sudan Joint Supervisory Committee urged UNISFA to activate its role in monitoring the security and military conditions and implement the temporary security arrangements clause.
It also called for an urgent investigation into the events that involved the South Sudan Defense Forces and ending the repeated attacks and assaults on defenseless people.
It also urged the two countries to assume responsibility for achieving peace and maintaining regional stability.
Under the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the oil-rich Abyei region, a disputed area between Sudan and South Sudan, was given the right to hold a referendum to determine whether it wanted to be part of the north or the south.
The Dinka Ngok tribes are in the region’s south, while the north is inhabited by the Misseria tribes, who move with their livestock across the shared border between Sudan and South Sudan.
The two groups have been coexisting for a long time, but conflicts over pastures occur occasionally.
The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague redrew the boundaries of Abyei, ceding key oilfields to north Sudan.