UNISFA, Partners broker peace between two communities in Abyei
Nokai Origin, Abuja
The United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei, UNISFA, Internal Organisation for Migration IOM, Food and Agricultural Organisation FAO and Concordis International have brokered a peace agreement between the Ngok Dinkas and Misseriyas of the disputed Abyei Box that lies between the borders of Sudan and South Sudan.
This follows a 4-day engagement in Todach from 20-23 March 2023 which was jointly organized by UNISFA, aimed at reviving, and reviewing agreements signed by the two feuding communities in 2016 on how to peacefully manage the annual transhumance migration without recourse to violence.
The main objective was to deliberate on the seasonal challenges and expectations that usually come with the movement of cattle.
Acting Head of Mission and Force Commander, Major General Benjamin Olufemi Sawyerr stated that Peace is a process and not an event, it therefore requires patience because the alternative is violence, destructions, and deaths.
He pointed out that without peace there would be no security, no trade, no contacts, there would be frustration, hunger, poverty, and more mistrust.
“we all need peace and development but that the people are the one who own that peace. There can be no peace without You, the main actors”.
He further praised the 2 communities for having Women and Youths as part of their delegations to the Seasonal Movement Conference.
The Chief Executive Officer of Concordis International Mr Peter Marsden said peace was a prerequisite to any form of development and encouraged the two communities to always seek dialogue in settling any form of disagreement and misunderstanding.
The conference took place under a very calm and peaceful atmosphere with members of the two communities honestly sharing and tempering their views on contentious issues, an indication that they are now committed to the search for a more lasting peace and peaceful co-existence that would see an end to the senseless killings within the Abyei Box and guarantee a peaceful transhumance movement.
The two communities that have been at loggerheads over the ownership of land and access to water and grazing areas over the decades, agreed to amongst other things, continue the process of peaceful coexistence between Ngok Dinka and Misseriya communities, cessation of hostilities and mutual respect between the two sides.
They equally agreed on ensuring freedom of movement within the Abyei Box without restrictions, withdrawal of all militias and armed units from the Abyei Box, and reactivation of the Joint Peace Committee on the side of Ngok Dinka to ensure continuous communication and continue dialogue through quarterly conferences between both communities at the leadership level.
Part of the agreement is to reactivate the weekly meetings of the Peace Committee and the need for the organizations to support both communities in building peace and trust among citizens.
They called on the peace partners to provide the two communities with humanitarian assistances, and workshops on peace culture, through local radios and public rallies and organize transhumance for pastoralist on yearly basis.
They equally called on UNISFA to intensify patrolling along the roads and villages within Abyei Box and to ensure that the two Countries withdraw of armed groups and militias within Abyei Box.
The FAO and the IOM represented by the Resident Coordinator’s Office Dr Charles Majinge also reiterated on the need for peace and dialogue as an important tool for development.
The 2 communities led by Chief Belbel of Ngok Dinka and Sultan Nazir Hamdeen of Misseriya both emphasized on the importance of peaceful coexistence amongst the two communities.
This latest agreement which is in line with the aspirations of the 2 leaders of Sudan and South Sudan in their engagements is a milestone achievement in Reviving and Reviewing the 2016 Agreement.
The two communities have since 2016 failed to meet except for the UNISFA organized Joint Traditional Leaders Peace Conference held in Entebbe in May 2022.
It is believed that this landmark efforts at the grassroot will allow for a smooth and violence free transhuman seasonal movement within the Abyei Box which is normally characterized with armed violence resulting to several death, displacement of persons, food insecurity, and severe suffering to Women and children.
UNISFA leadership says it deeply appreciates the support of the Juba and Khartoum appointment Chief Administrators and the Government of Sudan and South Sudan for their efforts in making the Conference a success.