News / Africa

South Sudan Accuses Khartoum of Depopulation Campaign in Abyei

Hundreds of southern Sudanese take part in a demonstration against northern Sudan's military incursion into the border town of Abyei in the southern capital of Juba, May 23, 2011.
Hundreds of southern Sudanese take part in a demonstration against northern Sudan's military incursion into the border town of Abyei in the southern capital of Juba, May 23, 2011.
Peter Heinlein

South Sudan is accusing the Khartoum government of waging a campaign to depopulate southerners from the contested Abyei region and replace them with nomads loyal to the north.  Control of the oil-producing area is at the heart of a bitter argument as Africa’s largest country prepares to divide into two in early July.  

Abyei remains under siege four days after Sudanese government troops and allied militias bombed and shelled the town, forcing a mass exodus.  United Nations peacekeepers holed up in a compound reported the deserted town was being looted and burned.

The south's dominant party, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), has charged Khartoum with deliberately driving out southerners from Abyei to make way for nomadic Misseriya tribes that fought for the north during Sudan’s civil war.  SPLM official Antipas Nyok told reporters the government is moving in Misseriya families to serve as a bargaining chip in future talks on whether Abyei goes north or south.

"Now they are transporting people from over 1,000 miles [1,600 kilometers], transporting them to Abyei, the Arab Misseriya, under pretext that these people will come and occupy the houses which they have chased people of Abyei away, so later on these people will claim the ownership of Abyei area," said Nyok.

Word that Misseriya are moving into the deserted town comes as the U.N. Security Council wraps up a three-day visit to Sudan to look at restructuring U.N. peacekeeping missions after partition.  The fighting forced cancellation of the Council’s scheduled visit to Abyei.  

British U.N. Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said the northern government’s seizure of the town must not be allowed to stand.

"There are looting and burning now of the town, particularly by some of the Misseriya and other militias, and we have made it very clear that it is the responsibility of the Sudanese government to get their forces and their militias under control and to withdraw from Abyei town to allow some sort of independent security presence to be re-established there," Grant said.

Ambassador Lyall Grant said decisions on how to design a successor to the U.N. Mission in Sudan, UNMIS will depend on how events play out in the next few weeks.

"Part of the reason for coming at this time is that we want to be in a position before 9 July to decide what the U.N. presence should be," added Grant.  "There is an UNMIS, which is a north-south presence.  The question is, do you continue that for several months while the north-south issues are resolved, or do you split it into to two, and have a border force, and then you have a new U.N. mission purely for the south."

Sudanese officials this week suggested they might not accept the continued presence of U.N. peacekeepers after the UNMIS mandate expires July 9.  But Ambassador Lyall Grant expressed confidence that skilled diplomacy would be able to bridge what he called “the very wide differences” between Khartoum and Juba on Abyei and other outstanding issues.

The mediation is being led by former South African President Thabo Mbeki, head of the African Union High Level Panel on Sudan, along with U.N. Special Representative Haile Menkerios.

The Khartoum government suffered a setback Tuesday with word that a minister has resigned, saying war crimes had been committed in the Abyei region.  Minister Luka Biong Deng, a southerner from Abyei, said in a resignation statement that he could no longer work in a national unity government with President Omar al-Bashir’s ruling National Congress Party.

Pressure on Khartoum is also mounting from Washington.  U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan Princeton Lyman said Monday the seizure of Abyei could jeopardize plans to normalize U.S.-Sudan relations, and for billions of dollars in debt relief.

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid