ENOUGH Project (Washington, DC)

17 January 2013

Sudan: AU Must Lead in Resolving Abyei Dispute to Avoid War in the Sudans

In Abyei, the disputed area near the border between Sudan and South Sudan, everyone is talking about migration season. It could spark renewed war. ( Resource: Abyei on Edge During Migration Season

press release

The upcoming African Union annual summit on January 21 offers a key opportunity to resolve the final status of Abyei—a disputed, resource-rich region straddling the ill-defined border between Sudan and South Sudan.

The final status of Abyei remains one of the most controversial, outstanding issues between Sudan and South Sudan and must be resolved to avoid reigniting war between the two countries, according to a new Enough Project report and video.

The report and video are based on field research conducted by the Enough Project during a trip to the region in December 2012.

The report argues that the African Union should fully and unequivocally support the African Union High Level Implementation Panel, or AUHIP, proposal, which provides mechanisms for resolving Abyei’s final status, and defines and protects the rights of people living within and moving through the area.

The report emphasizes that the lack of cooperation between the two governments, particularly Sudan’s outright rejection of the AUHIP proposal, remains a serious obstacle to reaching a resolution on Abyei’s status.

Renata Rendón, co-author of the report and Enough Project policy and advocacy director, said:

“The question of Abyei’s status has remained unresolved for decades, and the people of Abeyi continue to suffer the effects of cyclical conflicts perpetuated by continued ambiguity.

"The international community must make a clear commitment to pressure the Sudans to come to an enforceable agreement on determining Abyei’s final status and mitigate further destabilizing violence. Only a decision on the final status of Abyei will create the political stability necessary for sustainable peace in the area.”

Amanda Hsiao, co-author and Juba field researcher for the Enough Project, said:

“The AUHIP would protect the migratory, civic, political, and economic rights of the two communities with the greatest stake in Abyei—the Ngok Dinka, who historically have lived in Abyei and align themselves with South Sudan; and the Misseriya, nomadic people who traverse Abyei seasonally with their cattle and identify with Sudan.

"A credible international referendum and administrative structures for the area as outlined by the AUHIP proposal will ensure the continued rights of both communities, allowing them to benefit equitably and securely from Abyei’s natural resources. The African Union should prioritize civic education outreach among the local populations to inform them of the AUHIP proposal and the rights and protections it affords them.”

The Enough Project is a project of the Center for American Progress to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2007, Enough focuses on the crises in Sudan, South Sudan, eastern Congo, and areas affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Enough conducts intensive field research, develops practical policies to address these crises, and shares sensible tools to empower citizens and groups working for change. 

View the Accompanying Video: “Abyei on Edge During Migration Season”

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