58 cattle retrieved, pastoralists express gratitude to UNISFA
The United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) facilitated the retrieval and handing-over of the 58 stolen herd of cattle to the rightful owner, a Ngok Dinka pastoralist, on 26 June 2017 in Todach village, 17 kilometers north from Abyei town.
The leaders of the Ngok Dinka and Misseriya pastoralist groups from eastern, southern and central migration corridors expressed their gratitude to UNISFA for the efforts in combatting cattle rustling. “With the absence of a functioning government in our area, we are truly grateful that UNISFA is around to help deal with criminal activities such as cattle rustling, a problem that has haunted us for so many years and has been the source of disputes and clashes between individuals and communities,” said Jahid Omer, the head of the pastoralists in the eastern corridor.
“The United Nations is here in Abyei to protect you and all communities living here, as well as your properties. We exert all efforts to ensure that you run a normal and secure life,” Brig Gen Assefa Gebru Workneh, UNISFA Chief Liaison Officer for Abyei, emphasized during the hand-over ceremony, which was attended Mr Alan Doyle, UNISFA Chief of Mission Support and Col Hailu Gebrehiwot Gebru, North Sector Commander. “We will continue to keep an eye out for potential rustlers during the reverse migration,” Gen Assefa assured the pastoralists.
The owner of the livestock, Majej Tong Ngor, conveyed his appreciation to the troops of UNISFA for the retrieval of some of his animals. “I lost 264 animals during a raid on 18 June this year in Arik area near Athony. I hope that over the next weeks, they will be able to facilitate the retrieval of the rest of the stolen animals.” With coordination and cooperation of communities in the Abyei area, UNISFA hopes to retrieve the rest of the stolen livestock over the next couple of weeks.
The leaders of both the Ngok Dinka and Misseriya pastoralist groups, however, expressed concerns over the proper handling of the criminals or the animal rustlers. “We want them to be arrested and handover to the traditional courts, given the absence of a police service in Abyei. We will continue to cooperate with UNISFA to minimize, if not to stop, these cattle rustling activities,” Omer added.
Cattle rustling is one of the challenges facing communities in the Abyei Area. Since the start of 2017, three major cases of cattle rustling and one case of cattle killing (15 animals killed) have been reported to UNISFA.