UN urges government to probe killing of 75 civilians in Abyei
The United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in South Sudan on Thursday called on the government to investigate the killing of 75 civilians in the disputed area of Abyei and the alleged involvement of South Sudan’s People People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF) elements in the attacks.
The violence erupted at dawn on Sunday as a revenge attack on Ngok Dinka in the Wuncuei and Nyiel areas of the Abyei Administrative Area by armed youth from Twic County in neighboring Warrap State.
The latest attack comes after clashes in the Ayuok area of Twic County on 13 November spearheaded by armed Ngok Dinka youth from Abyei which left 34 dead including SSPDF soldiers.
Local authorities in Abyei accused the SSPDF of coordinating revenge attacks on several Abyei villages alongside armed youth from the Twic County on Sunday, a claim the army denied.
Addressing reporters at a press conference on Thursday, Nicholas Haysom, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in South Sudan, called upon the government to investigate these attacks and killings and to do what is necessary to reduce the tension between affected communities.
“Mostly recently we have been concerned by reports of violence in Abyei Administrative Area and Warrap State which has claimed approximately 75 lives,” he said. “Leaders of these communities need to recognize that repeated cycle of retaliatory violence will not solve any problem and they need to use peaceful means to resolve issues.”
“I call upon the government to investigate these attacks and killings and to do what is necessary to reduce the tension between affected communities,” Haysom added.
The UNMISS chief clarified that no UN peacekeeper was among the 75 killed during fighting on Sunday.
“UNISFA has quite clearly indicated that none of their peacekeepers was killed and they have gone public on that. Secondly, was SSPDF involved? I have noted that the SSPDF have denied they were involved and I do not have any information,” Haysom stated. “And in my view, this is something that the government should investigate. If the SSPDF were involved given that the SSPDF should not be in the (Abyei) box, it will require some investigation as to why that took place.”
He said the mission will continue to deploy their Blue Helmets within their capacity and resources for the protection of civilians and in support of state authorities in discharging their duties to the location.