UN must ensure safe return for Sudan's Abyei refugees -Amnesty
20 Dec 2011 15:34
(Corrects to show acronym for United Nations Interim Security Force for
Abyei is UNISFA not UNIFSA in sixth paragraph)
By Katy Migiro
NAIROBI (AlertNet) - The United Nations must do more to help tens of
thousands of displaced Sudanese people return safely to the contested region
Abyei, Amnesty International
ts-allow-civilians-displaced-abyei-return-2011-12--0> said on Tuesday.
nds-flee> took control of the contested town in May, driving out almost the
entire population of 100,000, most of whom are living in makeshift camps
over the border in South Sudan.
"The Sudanese Army and allied militia have driven virtually the entire
population out of Abyei and burned down their homes so as to prevent their
return," Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International's senior crisis response
adviser, said in a statement.
Abyei is one of several border regions contested between the two states
following the secession of South Sudan from Sudan on July 9.
Abyei was due to hold a referendum in January to decide whether it would
become part of Sudan or South Sudan. But it was cancelled due to
disagreements over who would be entitled to vote. On June 20, the two sides
agreed to withdraw their forces but they have not done so.
Sudan has said it
or-now/> will not withdraw its troops until the U.N. peacekeeping force, the
United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA), reaches its full
deployment of 4,000 Ethiopian troops.
"It is imperative that the U.N. learns from the failures of UNMIS (United
Nations Missions in the Sudan) and ensures that UNISFA is fully deployed and
given the necessary human and material resources to enable it to fulfil its
mandate to protect the civilians" Rovera said.
"The first step is to create the necessary security conditions in Abyei for
the safe return of the population and to put in place robust mechanisms to
implement the protection of civilians and human rights monitoring aspects of
South Sudan's army has withdrawn, but individual soldiers remain in Abyei,
Rovera described Abyei as a ghost town, populated only by soldiers and U.N.
"Charred homes and the shells of looted buildings testify to the horrors
that took place in Abyei" she said.
Displaced people in South Sudan told Amnesty they wished to go home but were
scared of renewed attacks by Sudan's armed forces.
"There is no food," one woman in Mayen Abun camp in South Sudan said in the
"Sometimes I collect wild fruits to eat."
In August, U.N. human rights investigators were denied access to Abyei.
More than 80,000 Sudanese have sought refuge in South Sudan from clashes
between government forces and insurgents on the northern side of the
poorly-marked and tense border, according to the United Nations.
More than 410,000 people have been displaced in the border states of South
of-blue-nile-fighting/> Blue Nile, where Sudan's army is fighting insurgents
who were allied with southern rebels during decades of civil war that
culminated in South Sudan's secession.
Faltering negotiations over post-secession issues such as oil, debt,
disputed areas and transitional finance, as well as a military build-up on
both sides of the border, risk creating further instability.
(Editing by Rebekah Curtis)
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Received on Tue Dec 20 2011 - 12:52:01 EST