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Washington vows continued visits to assess the situation in Abyei

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March 14, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - A delegation from the U.S. embassy in Khartoum has visited the border disputed region of Abyei from 7 to 9 March to inspect USAID programs and to meet with the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA).

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UN peacekeepers from Ethiopia patrol the outskirts of the disputed Abyei town that straddles the border between Sudan and South Sudan on 16 September 2013 (Photo: Reuters/Andreea Campeanu)

In a press release extended to Sudan Tribune Wednesday, U.S. embassy said “the delegation visited USAID implementing partners and counterparts to evaluate the status of development assistance programming in Abyei”.

“The delegation also met with Acting UNISFA Force Commander, Brigadier General Zewdu Kiros Gebrekidan to discuss how the mission is carrying out its mandate” read the press release.

It added: “the delegation held consultations with other United Nations agencies, met with local administrative leaders, and visited two USAID-funded and IOM-implemented projects in Makenis and Radiyah”.

“U.S. Embassy staff in Khartoum and U.S. Embassy staff in Juba will continue to travel to Abyei to assess the efforts of UNISFA to maintain stability and security in the absence of local administration and to review the status of previous agreements regarding joint administration and the resolution of Abyei’s final status as per the Comprehensive Peace Agreement” said the U.S. embassy.

U.S. embassy pointed out the visits “will also allow us to observe humanitarian efforts by UN agencies, international NGOs, and their local partners to provide food assistance, primary health care, clean drinking water, and non-food items to vulnerable populations”.

“The United States applauds local efforts to live in peaceful coexistence and encourages continued positive engagement to ensure peace and security in Abyei” said the embassy.

“We also look forward to updates on the respective commitments by authorities in Khartoum and Juba to a long-term solution to ensure the people of Abyei can work together towards building a stable and mutually prosperous region”. Further, reads the press release

Ownership of Abyei, a disputed oil-producing region contested by Sudan and South Sudan, remained contentious even after the world’s youngest nation split from Sudan in 2011.

There is no joint administration between Sudan and South Sudan, as the Ngok Dinka refuse the formation of Abyei Joint Oversight Committee (AJOC). Instead, they call to hold a referendum without the Sudanese pastoralist Misseriya.

Now there are two committees one for the Misseriya appointed by the Sudanese government and another for the Ngok Dinka appointed by Juba government.

The Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) provides that the contested territory remains part of the north until the organisation of a referendum determine its fate.

The difference over who will participate in the referendum prevents the two countries from holding the agreed referendum.

However, the Dinka Ngok organised a unilateral referendum from 27to 29 October 2013 to say they want to join the Republic of South Sudan.

Khartoum, Juba, the African Union and the international community refused to recognise the outcome of the vote.

(ST)

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