Abyei Peace is top priority to achieve UNISFA mandate
As part of the continuing processes of the United Nations in fulfilling its mandate in the Abyei region, the Acting Head of Mission / Force Commander for the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA), Major General Hassen Ebrahim Mussa, met with the Ngok Dinka Community on Friday, 22 April 2016. It would be recalled that Major General Hassen had on Sunday, 17 April 2016 also met with the Misseriya Community on a similar agenda. At his meeting with the Ngok Dinka people, the Force Commander reiterated his administration’s resolution to give top priority to Abyei peace such that the Ngok Dinka and Misseriya communities can co-exist harmoniously.
Major General Hassen made known these intentions during the meeting with the Ngok Dinka community leaders held at 13 Ethiopian Battalion Headquarters in Dokura. This is the second of such meetings since he took up office as UNISFA Acting Head of Mission/ Force Commander.
The Force Commander informed the community leaders that he was impressed with both Ngok Dinka and Misseriya communities for the progress being achieved in restoring peace and security to the Abyei Box. He further pledged his full support for the agreements reached, emphasizing the need for both parties to achieve sustainable peace which was critical as both communities depend on each other. Major General Hassen also informed the gathering that UNISFA had relaxed the imaginary disengagement line to enable the Misseriya people free movement to graze their cattle in Ngok Dinka dominated areas based on the agreement.
Additionally, Major General Hassen decried the activities of some criminal elements who are disrupting the peace process by engaging in cattle rustling activities despite the efforts undertaken so far by both tribes. He however, expressed delight in the fact that some of the rustled cattle from both communities have been found and returned to the rightful owners.
The Ngok Dinka community leaders expressed their commitment to also make peace with the Misseriyans by sharing pastures, water and markets. They however, admitted that both communities harbor criminals, thieves and cattle rustlers, who disrupt or regress the progress of peace in the region. For example, the Misseriyans previously alleged that the Dinkas had stolen 240 cattle, a crime apparently perpetrated by criminals from Warrap State, outside Abyei Box, in South Sudan. The Community Protection Committees (CPCs) have recovered only 130 cattle even though the Misseriyans are still demanding the return of the remaining 110 rustled cattle. This incident is now a thorn in the flesh of the Dinkas. Similarly, on the other hand, a Misseriyan had also recently stabbed a Dinka motorcycle trader to death at Noong market in the process of stealing his Motorcycle. In settlement, the Misseriyan community is to pay compensation in form of cattle to the bereaved family of the deceased Dinka motorcyclist. Both processes are on-going.
The Dinka community leaders however, expressed concerns of atrocities such as rustling of Ngok Dinka cattle by the Misseriyans during their usual reverse migration northwards once the rainy season starts. Consequently, they called on the Acting Head of Mission / Force Commander to checkmate these antecedents and keep an eye on the Misseriya community during their reverse migration.
The Ngok Dinka community leaders also informed Major General Hassen that the community need to shift the Noong Market to Todach (which is situated on an all-weather road) during the rainy season for reasons of ease of access and security protection from the nearby UNISFA Camp. The aim was to make the common market continue to operate until the rainy season and to deter the criminal elements from pestering them subsequently.
The Force Commander assured the community of UNISFA’s neutrality, and reiterated the mission’s commitment to ensuring peace and security in the Abyei Box in order to enable the peoples of both tribes to live together in peace and harmony. As part of his concerns, he asked the Ngok Dinka Community to have a high level meeting with the Misseriya community leaders at to discuss such issues and he also emphasized that the reactivation of the Abyei Joint Oversight Committee (AJOC) would soon help both communities function better in addressing their issues. The Ngok Dinka community leaders expressed their agreement to Force Commander’s request to hold a high level meeting with the Misseriyans to discuss matters of common interest in the near future so that peace can be restored in the Abyei Box.