Government forces to secure Abyei

Government forces to secure Abyei
Minister of Information, Michael Makuei, addressing the media after the Council of Ministers meeting in Juba. [Keji Janefer, City Review]

The government is mulling the idea of deploying forces to Abyei Administrative Area to contain the rampant deadly clashes at the border.

President Salva Kiir on Friday chaired a Cabinet meeting which resolved to send the military to Abyei to handle the insecurity.

According to the Minister of Information, Michael Makuei, the forces will complement the efforts of the United Nations Interim Security Forces for Abyei (UNISFA) to protect the population.

Fighting in Abyei began on February 10, 2022, with reports of civilians killed and injured, as well as more than 50,000 people displaced.

The majority of the population fled to Abyei town, leading to the influx of 20,400 individuals in Twic County in Warrap State.  Others sought safety in locations further south. The humanitarian agencies ceased operations in the impacted areas and relocated workers for safety reasons.

According to a UN report, the intercommunal conflicts between the Ngok of Abyei and the Twic Mayardit of Gokrial were allegedly fuelled by long-standing territory disputes, inter-tribal animosity, and revenge.

People displaced

Fighting broke out in Anet settlements on February 10, in villages of Abyei and Twic County. The clashes spread to neighbouring areas such as the Juljok community and Agok town.

According to the Relief and Rehabilitation Commission (RRC) and the Abyei Administration, at least 50,000 people fled the areas and went to various locations in central and southern Abyei.

Following the incident, President Salva Kiir formed a committee to look into the core causes of the dispute between the two communities.

The committee, led by Vice President for Service Cluster Hussein Abdelbagi, went to the ground and conducted an investigation, which subsequently paved the way for the signing of a cessation of hostilities agreement between the parties in conflict.

However, since early March 2022, the violence has increased, resulting in 36 deaths and an unknown number of injuries. Also, both public and private facilities have been destroyed in Agok.

More than 750 aid workers – national and international – relocated with their families from Agok and Juljok to various locations, including Abyei town and South Sudan. Reports indicate that Agok town has been largely deserted.

According to Mr Makuei, some of the resolutions of the cabinet meeting to address the Abyei crisis were highlighted.

He noted that despite the cease-fire agreement brokered by Mr Abdelbagi, there have been several violations by the parties with and without the intervention of UNISFA forces in the area.

“Despite their intervention, they could not resolve any problem, and as such, it is decided that the UNISFA force should be informed to be vigilant and keep maintaining law and order, that is one,’’ he noted.

“That the SPLA forces should be sent to the side in order to control the situation and that the investigation committee need to be strengthened so that the two parties can continue to maintain law and order until that when the investigation committee presents its report to the cabinet. This will enable the cabinet to give all the necessary directives on the situation,” Makuei stated.