Sudan: Abyei Violence And The White House Response

According to UN reports, an estimated 20,000 people have fled the contested Abyei region of Sudan, situated on the border of north and south Sudan.  Tensions resulting from the recent independence referendum in the south erupted into violence last week with clashes between Arab nomads supportive of the Khartoum government and sedentary African ethnic groups supportive of the south.  Abyei was scheduled to have a concurrent referendum on whether to join an independent south or remain with the north but logistical failures prevented one from taking place.

The White House released a statement on Wednesday in response to the growing humanitarian crisis deploring the violence and calling on northern and southern leaders to take immediate steps to restore calm and prevent further violence.  The presence of military forces by either side was condemned as a violation of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement to which both north and south are a party.  The statement reiterated the requirement that both northern and southern governments provide the UN Mission in Sudan “full and unfettered” access to accomplish its mandate and further called on Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and South Sudanese President Salva Kiir to meet face to face to help resolve the issue.