Norwegian ambassador to Sudan promises discussion over Abyei issues with UN security council

 

Norway’s Ambassador to Sudan (center) poses for a photo with Abyei youth in Abyei Town, Abyei Administrative Area on 23rd March 2021, | Photo source: Arop Santino

Norway’s Ambassador to the Sudan, Therese Løken Gheziel has promised to present insecurity and other problems facing people in Abyei to the UN security council for discussion.

Ambassador Therese visited Abyei on Tuesday to know the challenges facing the area.

The Norwegian diplomat held series of meetings with various groups including chiefs, women’s group, youth and Abyei administration.

“Of course, the challenges that are facing people in Abyei are not only to youth, but it is to all Abyei citizens. Like security, education, capacity building for youth, leadership, and the scholarships for youth. So, ambassador met with us to know the challenges we are facing here in Abyei to raise it up in the next security council meeting led by Norway …. according to her,” Says Arop Santino, Information Secretary of Youth Steering Committee in Abyei.

Under June 2011, agreement, Abyei is a demilitarized zone guarded by the United Nations Security Force for Abyei. But armed attacks on civilians are common despite the presence of the UN peacekeeping soldiers.

More than 440 people lost their lives between 2012 and 2021, according to data compiled by Community Protection Committee.

On 13 March 2021, gunmen said to be from Misseriya tribe of the Sudan killed a driver and injured four others including three women. The vehicle was going to Amiet market when it fell into an ambush in Nyok-lith, located a few kilometers away from Abyei Town.

In January 2020, more than 30 civilians were brutally killed in Kolom village located north west of Abyei town.

The incident sparked peaceful protests in Abyei, Khartoum and Juba with angry natives of Abyei demanding for the replacement of UN peace keeping soldiers who are from Ethiopia with troops from various countries. The protesters had blamed UNISFA for failing to protect civilians.

The paramount chief of Ngok Dinka, Bulabek Deng Kuol has seemingly expressed frustration over stifling justice in Abyei.

“The security is being threatened by many challenges. Criminal is not held accountable, and the international community and the two countries are not doing anything to give the outcome of the investigation. First thing, the report on the killing of Chief Kuol Adol has no outcome. The committee on the incident of Mabok up to now has no results. On 13th, a passenger vehicle was attacked, and one person was killed, the suspect was arrested but was released,” Chief Deng recounts.

Chief Deng said: “The investigation of all these incidents is supposed to have results. The criminal should be held accountable to reduce crimes.”

Chief Deng says they informed the Norwegian ambassador that killings that have occurred in Abyei are not investigated.

In a bid to restore peace and stability in the region, Chief Deng reiterated the call to find the lasting solution to Abyei issue.

Abyei has remained a contested area between the Sudan and South Sudan since South Sudan gained independence in 2011. As stipulated in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement – CPA that ended the then longest civil war in Africa, people of Abyei were to vote to choose on whether to remain as part of the Sudan or join South Sudan. However, the referendum that was to take place in January 2011 at the same time Southern Sudanese were voting for their own fate was thwarted by disagreement over voters’ eligibility.

In 2013, Ngok Dinka Ngok organized a community referendum during which they overwhelmingly voted over 99 percent to become part of South Sudan. But the results were not validated by either Sudan or South Sudan. Ngok Dinka people commemorate these results every year with calls for the recognition of the outcomes.