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Sudan stumbles toward open war

South Sudan | Conflict

NORTHERN AND SOUTHERN SUDAN are once again on the brink of war. This time the main conflict area is the oil rich region of Abyei, and the odds for renewed armed conflict are very high.

"The world should not allow another Balkans, Rwandan or Darfur style of genocide against the Ngok Dinka people of Abyei," says veteran journalist Akol Miyen Kuol. He has recently published a new book about his native Abyei region to give both South and Northern Sudanese, as well as the international community, a better understanding of the ongoing conflicts.

akol miyen kuolOn Saturday, 21 May, Northern Sudanese forces led by tanks attacked the Abyei town area with 5,000 troops, killing civilians and Southern soldiers. Several Northern groups orchestrated the invasion and occupation of the whole Abyei region, including the Sudan Armed Forces, Popular Defence Forces, Janjawid militia as well as the Missiriyah Arab militias.

The occupation has led to the death of civilians, and many elderly people, women, and children are still missing. The invading forces set Abyei ablaze and looted homes and even the property of the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS).

According to the minister of humanitarian affairs of the Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS), Mr. James Kok Ruea, about 150,000 Ngok Dinka people of Abyei fled to the neighboring southern states of Warrap, Northern Bahr-al-Ghazal and Unity.

Former Minister of the Cabinet Affairs of the Government of National Unity, Dr. Luka Biong Deng, said war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed by the Sudan Armed Forces and the allied militias. Therefore, these crimes qualify as genocide.

"I call upon the United Nations Security Council, NATO and the rest of the international community to force the Sudanese government to immediately and unconditionally withdraw its forces from the whole Abyei region and impose a buffer zone in the whole Abyei region," says Akol Miyen Kuol. 

"UN Peacekeeping Forces should be brought in to the area and be given a mandate to use force if necessary. The demarcation of Abyei region which is the territory of the Nine Ngok Dinka Chiefdoms should begin immediately in accordance with the Permanent Court of Arbitration's ruling issued in the Hague on 22 July 2009. The International Criminal Court should begin probe into war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the Sudan Armed Armed Forces with their allied militias."

Under a 2005 north-south peace deal, which ended 22 years of civil war, Abyei was granted special status and a joint north-south administration set up in 2008. Tensions over Abyei - claimed by a southern group, the Dinka Ngok, and northern nomads, the Misseriya - have been rising since a referendum on its future scheduled for January was postponed. A sensitive issue is that the existingpeace agreement does not give the Misseriya tribe the right to vote.

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