Saturday, March 15, 2014

South Sudan: Looming Crisis - Open Wounds in Abyei Increase Risk of New War

Source: Enough Project ReliefWeb
Looming Crisis - Open Wounds in Abyei Increase Risk of New War


In Abyei, a small but strategically important disputed area on the border between Sudan and South Sudan, rising inter-communal tensions have resulted in a marked escalation in conflict in recent weeks. At this extremely sensitive moment in the nomadic Misseriya community’s seasonal migration across the Ngok Dinka homeland, these new dynamics could spark another war between Sudan and South Sudan, unless the international community acts immediately to enforce the pledge to demilitarize the area and arrest this trend.

Armed youth and dissatisfied cadres within the South Sudanese army in the area seem to be interested in provoking a confrontation, both with the Misseriya community and the Sudanese government. Unaddressed anger around the South Sudan’s lukewarm response to the October 2013 referendum vote and the Ngok Dinka paramount chief’s killing has emboldened local armed actors. Armed groups aligned with South Sudan are increasingly moving to the northern parts of the area, actively confronting nomads and challenging the seasonal migration of the Misseriya community. In response to dramatically shifting realities on the ground as a result of South Sudan’s internal war, some in Abyei may be interested in instigating violence to attract international attention to the area’s unresolved status. For their part, the Misseriya are desperate to move their cattle further south in search of water and grazing pastures. Any threat to these pastoral routes raises the stakes of violence and the likelihood of bloodshed. This game of brinksmanship is putting both local communities and the broader region at great risk of war.