UN top officials call for dialogue to end Warrap, Abyei conflict

The visiting Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Horn of Africa, Hanna Serwaa Tetteh on Friday advised the warring communities of Ngok Dinka and Twic community of Warrap State to engage in dialogue to end their long-running conflict.
the Secretary-General for the Horn of Africa, Hanna Serwaa Tetteh address a press conference in Juba on Friday.

By Benjamin Takpiny    

The visiting Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Horn of Africa, Hanna Serwaa Tetteh on Friday advised the warring communities of Ngok Dinka and Twic community of Warrap State to engage in dialogue to end their long-running conflict.

“The communities are very much interlinked, have been intermarried, have engaged together over time, and it is unfortunate that there has been this breakdown so far,” Tetteh said during press conference in Juba.

“Because at the end of the day, that is how this matter will be resolved, not by fighting, not by injuring, not by hurting each other, but by coming together to talk to each other. Indeed, this is a very momentous year for South Sudan, because it could mark the end of the implementation of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS), if indeed it is possible to hold general election,” she added.

 Tetteh commended the United Nations Interim Force for Abyei (UNISFA) for the protection of civilians caught up in the intermittent fighting between the two communities.

 She sent condolences for the two peacekeepers that lost their lives during the fighting between armed youth from Twic community and Ngok Dinka in Abyei Administrative Area. The deadly fighting since January 27 left more than 54 people killed.

“I would also like to join my colleague Jean-Pierre in thanking, first and foremost, our colleagues in UNMISS, our colleagues in UNISFA and the national government and state government national. We had the opportunity to meet over these last few days, and the people whom we met from the communities, civil society, women’s groups were ready to share their thoughts with us very frankly and very openly, and of course, by so doing added value to this interaction,” Tetteh said.

Tetteh said that the upcoming general election would be an important milestone in transitioning the country from conflict toward inclusive democracy.

The United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations,  Jean-Pierre Lacroix and Hanna Serwaa Tetteh, the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Horn of Africa visited South Sudan and Abyei as part of a mission to understand the challenges, discuss the security situation, peace processes and electoral preparations with key stakeholders, and meet with State authorities, civil society and community members.

Tetteh said that the final status of Abyei has not been resolved and is unlikely to be resolved anytime soon given the ongoing conflict in Sudan.

 She noted that the current conflict between Twic community and Ngok Dinka is caused by a land dispute.

“We are not in a position to pronounce on the merits of whose case and who has the better case in this regard. The question really is that when you do have disputes of this nature, what is the best way of resolving those disputes, especially between communities that have long coexisted, that have a significant record of intermarriage with each other, and to all intents and purposes have been very close,” Tetteh said.

She said that the UN would be very willing to support dialogue among these two warring communities in order to arrive at a peaceful outcome.

The United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix said that the issue of the final status of Abyei will unfortunately remain unresolved for some time, adding that violence between the two communities will only lead to escalation.

“So what needs to be done is to roll up your sleeve and work together to elicit de-escalation and rebuild trust between the communities. Now, it’s easier said than done. I think the good news is that we’ve noted with appreciation quite a serious and renewed commitment by the highest authorities of South Sudan to be engaged and to contribute to these efforts,” Lacroix said.

 He said that they interacted with the local authorities, the civil society particularly in the Warap State and in Abyei, adding that dialogue is what is need to diffuse tensions which remain high.

 ‘This isn’t an issue that will be solved overnight, but there needs to be continuous such engagement at all the levels that I mentioned,” Lacroix said.

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