By Bonifacio Taban Kuich
March 5, 2013 (BENTIU) - A Sudanese boy from South Kordofan has been returned to leaders from his community after a meeting between Plata nomads and leaders from Unity state’s Parieng county.
- (Source: http://concordis-international.org)
The two-day meeting, which ended on March 1, was organised by peace building NGO Concordis International, who brought together 61 participants, including local chiefs, to discuss the relationship between the communities on either side of the north-south border.
Since South Sudan became independent in 2011 Sudanese nomadic tribes have had to come to new agreements with host communities to facilitate their seasonal migration with their cattle.
Last year the Parieng county commissioner, Majok Gatdet Deng, accused members of the Plata of forcefully entering the region without notifying the South Sudanese authorities. However, relations have improved after peace talks which paved this meeting.
George Mabany Chakuoth, a liaison officer for Concordis International in Unity State, said that their aim was to facilitate the building of relationships between community leaders on both sides of the border.
At the meeting the host community warned the Plata to respect South Sudanese laws while accessing their grazing lands. Chakuoth said the community also asked the Plata to ensure that Sudanese militia and the Sudanese army (SAF) do not use the agreed migrating route to attack South Sudanese territory.
Tensions between the two nations remain high as many issues relating to South Sudan’s secession have not been resolved and deals signed have not been implemented, most notably the agreements reached in September last year.
Large parts of the border are highly militarised, especially around the many contested areas along the largely undemarcated border. Sudan accuses South Sudan of continuing to aid their former allies who are now fighting SAF in Blue Nile and South Kordofan, one of the main points of contention between the two sides during negotiations.
Concordis’ conferences in South Sudan’s border state’s have provided recommendations to talks north-south talks in Addis Ababa on what the border peoples want.
The South Sudanese government’s official policy is to welcome migration of the Bagara, Misseriya and other nomads but there is no overall strategy to manage this and it is inconsistently implemented depending the politics of each state, Richard King, the Director of Operations at Concordis told a meeting at the United Kingdom parliament last week.
The lack of administrative cooperation in border areas is a reflection of non-communication at a higher level, King told the Associate Parliamentary Group for Sudan and South Sudan on February 26.
King said that the annual migration has been discouraged from Khartoum to prevent links and trade.
However, some migration still took place in both 2011 and 2012 and has been documented in a new Concordis report, ’Crossing the border’.
It was during the clashes in April last year between the SAF and the South Sudanese Army (SPLA) over the disputed area of Heglig that the Plata boy, who is deaf, was abducted.
For almost a year the 14-year-old has being held in Parieng county under the responsibility of a local chief. It was only during the recent peace talks that the host community say they were able to hand the boy back to Plata chiefs.
Concordis reports on the Sudan-South Sudan border