October 26, 2012 (JUBA) - Community leaders from the contested border region of Abyei have alleged that members of the Misseriya ethnic group raided 108 of their cattle on Wednesday.
- Citizens of Abyei taking refuge in South Sudan (AP)
On Friday it was claimed that a raid was carried out in Dokura, 10km north of Abyei town. On Wednesday the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) unanimously endorsed an initial proposal prepared by African Union High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) mediation seeking to settle a conflict over the ownership of Abyei, between South Sudan and Sudan.
Chol Changath, secretary general of the South Sudan’s governing Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) branch office in the area said more than 90 cows were looted by an armed group of Misseriya.
But a release by the a coalition of civil society organisations in the area said on Friday that 108 cattle have been raided and nothing has been returned, although efforts are being exerted to trace them, driven for the last two days by the Ethiopians peace keeping force of the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA).
The Misseriya are a nomadic group historically aligned with Khartoum. Their inclusion in a vote on the future of Abyei, by its populous, otherwise dominated by the Juba-aligned Ngok-Dinka, is a contentious matter yet to be resolved by talks held in Addis Ababa
The activists, in a release dated 26 October, thanked the AUHIP and all the members of AU Peace and Security Council for their commitment and decisive action to finally adopt and pass the proposal on the final solution for Abyei impasse without changes. The group equally expect UN Security Council (UNSC) to endorse it, to bring an end to the sufferings of the Ngok-Dinka.
“The endorsement of the proposal on Abyei status by the AUPSC helps to restore some hope among the Ngok-Dinka community. The tender heart of the African continent’s strongest bodies has at last felt the anguish and the pain that the innocent people of Abyei have been subjected to through ceaseless dishonouring of several agreements signed since the Comprehensive Peace Agreement”, the release reads in part.
An anonymous UN source in Abyei told Sudan Tribune on Friday that they have heard reports of a cattle raid, but are yet to verify them.
According the coalition statement “the chances for Abyei area to enjoy durable peace” are “fully laid on the shoulders of the AU and UNSC.”
The coalition also calls for the immediate implement the Abyei 20 June Agreement, particularly the establishment of Abyei Area Administration and Abyei Area Council and for the international community to assist with the return of displaced people to Abyei. It also calls for the AU Commission to convene an international donor’s conference for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Abyei area, including addressing the economic needs of the nomadic population.
As of 7 June, some 100,000 people had fled from the Abyei area, of which 67,000 had been registered, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Many fled when fighting broke between Juba and Khartoum’s forces in the area in 2011.
Luka Biong Deng, a co-chair of the Abyei Joint Oversight Committee also confirmed the raid was carried out. He said it was organised to send a signal that Misseriya are in the area and that it was as an act of those agitating for “a trigger” who “do not want peace and stability to prevail between the two nations”.
However, he noted that the AU Council’s acceptance of the Abyei agreement is a “victory” for the people of the area and Africa as a whole “as it shows the ability of the continent to resolve its problems by itself.”