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Kiir blames UN for deadly Abyei attack

South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit as he arrives in Khartoum for signing ceremony of transitional agreement between Sudan’s military and protesters on Saturday, August 17th 2019 (File/Supplied/Nyamilepedia)

January 29th 2020 (Nyamilepedia) – President Salva Kiir of South Sudan criticized the United Nations for last week’s massacre in the contested region of Abyei on the border between Sudan and South Sudan, where 32 people died.

The head of state addressed the issue in the middle of increasing anger at the failure of the peacekeeping force, known as UNISFA, to protect the ethnic Dinka village of Kolom in northern Abyei, last January 22nd.

Villagers said that the raid started an hour after UN forces left the village. The raiders wounded more than 20 people and burned down 22 huts as well as the village clinic and church, Middle East Eye reported. According to local officials, 15 children have been abducted, and only six of them have returned to their homes.

Abyei has long been contested land, with Misseriya herders traveling south from their areas in the Kordofan region in search of better grazing lands, bringing them into a dispute with local Dinka farmers.

However, this isn’t the first time local authorities have denounced the failure of UN forces in their duty to protect civilians. Kiir remembered the death of Deng Kuol Deng, a Dinka chief, who was killed by Misseriya while traveling with a UNISFA convoy in 2013.

“Wherever the UN is in South Sudan, they are doing nothing. They are furthering themselves,” the president expressed.

On the matter, a spokesperson for UNISFA told reporters that peacekeepers had been guarding Kolom for three days before the attack, but did not have a forward operating base near the village. The official said the attack had occurred between the departure of one patrol and the arrival of its replacement in the area.

“The newly arrived patrol managed to apprehend some of the alleged perpetrators. The mission will continue to investigate all the circumstances surrounding this unfortunate incident, and has convened a team for these purposes,” UNISFA official said.

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