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Sudan, South Sudan to deploy joint military observers in Abyei

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 People gather around a house burnt by Misseriya gunmen in Komol of Abyei area on 22 January 2020 (ST photo)
February 16, 2020 (KHARTOUM) - Sudan and South Sudan military observer teams are to be deployed soon in the disputed area of Abyei to avoid future attacks between the Ngok Dina and Misseriya.

The murder of three Misseriya in Kolom area of Abyei on 19 January triggered a revenge attack that resulted in the death of 35 Ngok Dinka on 21 January.

On 25 January, the Sudanese army disclosed that defence ministers of the two countries agreed on a plan to prevent further clashes between the two tribes during a meeting held in Juba.

In a report to the UN Security Council, the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) said it discussed with the two countries a plan to establish checkpoints to search for weapons and ammunition and control the reported movements of armed elements within the Abyei Area.

"The full operationalization of the Joint Military Observer Committee and the joint military observer team mechanisms has also received the backing of the two Governments," further said the report, issued on 10 February.

The report did not indicate a date for the deployment of the joint monitoring teams but stressed it is "expected to commence in due course".

Less than a month of the independence of South Sudan on 20 June 2011, the SPLM and the Sudanese government agreed to form a joint administration and to establish a joint police force but the Nogk Dinka rejected the agreement saying the prefer to accelerate a referendum on the future of the area.

UNISFA, in its report, said several measures have been taken to enhance the security coverage of the region by its rapid intervention forces.

The mission "reviewed its deployment concept in the dry season and is in the process of establishing three new temporary operating bases at Shegeg, Leu and Rumamier to address the threat from the east and south-eastern flanks".

Further "UNISFA has also engaged with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan to establish a collaborative mechanism to address cross-border activities by armed groups," said the report.

Cattle rustling is the main cause of attacks between the Ngok Dinka and the Misseriya pastoralists who move south during the dry season every year.

(ST)

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