23 December 2012

Sudan: Armed Nomads Enter Unity State Without Permission

Bentiu — A Sudanese nomadic group entered Parieng County last week without properly notifying the local government, the area's commissioner, Majok Gatdet Deng, told Sudan Tribune on Saturday.

The group of Ambororo herdsmen, who entered Unity State on December 15, are heavily armed, Deng said. But the Commissioner said the nomads would have been welcome if they had handed their weapons to South Sudan's army (SPLA) on the border before crossing into the world's newest country.

South Sudan seceded from Sudan in July 2011 but many issues such as border demarcation and security remain unresolved.

Unity State officials say they were surprised by the Ambororo's arrival. Commissioner Deng called on Unity State's government to deploy more police, in additional to the 150 police already in the area, to control and observe the movements of the nomads.

The Commissioner said the Ambororo phoned him before entering the county but because of network problems they were unable to communicate properly. Deng said he "told them we need to meet before they enter into our territory so that we will try to lay down a mechanism which will allow them to come in".

The Ambororo are one of many groups that traditionally cross into South Sudan to find green pasture for their cattle.

People in Parieng County fear that the rising number of armed pastoralists in county will cause insecurity.

Since the independence of South Sudan, Sudanese nomads did not enter Unity State until a group of Misseriya cattle herders entered through Mayom County and were allowed to remain in the area following negotiations with local Bul Nuer chiefs in October this year.

As part of the deal to allow them to access pastures, the Misseriya agreed to leave their weapons with the SPLA while they are in South Sudanese territory.

Sudanese nomads often wish to hold onto their weapons to protect themselves and their cattle despite assurances from South Sudanese authorities that they will be protected, while locals in Unity State worry that the armed nomads may be able to raid their cattle if they are armed.

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