By Okech Francis
Violence that have gone for over a month in the Abyei region, disputed by South Sudan and Sudan is escalating and the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei has not been spared the attacks.
It has led to the loss of life and is causing untold humanitarian suffering on the people as well as reversing gains made towards achieving peaceful coexistence in Abyei, UNISFA said in an emailed statement.
The conflict resulting from longstanding grievances and disputes between communities in Abyei and neighbouring areas have left several people dead and resulted in the displacement of thousands of innocent civilians, it said.
Reports in the media this week suggested that at least 27 people died in one attack over the weekend.
“Three armed attacks on convoys carrying UNISFA peacekeepers on patrol have been reported,” the peacekeeping mission said.
UNISFA said its acting Head of Mission and Force Commander, Major General Kefyalew Amde Tessema, is in contact with local leaders and has urged the parties to exercise utmost restraint to prevent an escalation of the hostilities.
“This escalation is in violation of UN Security Council resolution and is undermining peace and stability in the mission area of operation during a critical moment marked by continued disagreement between Misseriya and Ngok Dinka on the modalities for the annual migration as well as by the implementation of the Force transition,” Tessema said.
While extending condolences to the families of those who were killed and injured, he called for the immediate cessation of violence, and urged all parties to respect human rights and ensure the safety of affected communities.
UNISFA said it has deployed and intensified patrols around the areas most affected by the recent violence to ensure that the security situation normalizes.
The Mission has also provided shelter and protection to many locals seeking protection at its Agok field presence.