Abyei Community pays condolence visit to UNISFA over loss of peacekeepers
Members of the Abyei community led by the Ngok Dinka Paramount Chief, Mr. Bulabek Deng Kuol, and comprising some representatives of the Juba-appointed administration, traditional leadership and Civil Society, visited UNISFA yesterday to express condolences to the United Nations and the government and people of Ethiopia over the loss of three Ethiopian peacekeepers in a helicopter crash on 9 February while serving with United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA).
Speaking through the Deputy Chief Administrator, Honourable Kon Manyiet Matiok, Chief Bulabek said the Abyei community wished to share in the moment of grief with UNISFA, and in particular Ethiopian nationals. “This is a difficult moment and calls for people to come together in solidarity and hence the decision by the Abyei community to come and pay their respects to UNISFA” said Chief Bulabek, adding that this was not the first time that peacekeepers lives have been sacrificed in their service to Abyei.
Chief Bulabek Deng Kuol, who alongside the Juba-appointed Chief Administrator, had earlier attended the memorial ceremony in honour of the fallen Ethiopian peacekeepers, reiterated that the people of Abyei recognize UNISFA as an asset and need to take advantage of UNISFA’s presence to find a solution to the Abyei question. He also stressed that the death of the peacekeepers was a monumental loss not only to UNISFA and Ethiopia but also to Abyei and South Sudan.
The Force Commander and acting Head of Mission, Major General Gebre Adhana Woldezgu, thanked the paramount Chief and his delegation for the show of solidarity with UNISFA and the people of Ethiopia. He observed that the helicopter crash represented a very sad chapter in the history of peacekeeping in general and UNISFA in particular, stressing that it was the first time UNISFA had experienced an incident of such magnitude. He added that the fallen soldiers were not only peacekeepers, but also brothers to all and that the visit of the Paramount Chief and his entourage was a solemn reminder that UNISFA and the community should work together for peace and security, and that potential differences should be addressed peacefully.