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

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora