UN human rights chief condemns violence in Abyei

Abyei residents displace by conflict

Abyei residents displaced by conflict

An ongoing conflict in the disputed oil-rich region of Abyei has been condemned by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay.  Derrick Mbatha reports:

The most recent violence occurred on Monday as armed elements embarked on a rampage of looting and burning in Abyei town.

A referendum that was supposed to allow the people of Abyei to decide on whether the region will be part of north or South Sudan has not taken place.

Rupert Colville is the spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay.

 CUT 1:      Rupert Colville

"The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, is calling on both sides in the conflict in Abyei to immediately cease hostilities and respect international human rights and humanitarian law. She is condemning the recent attacks and counter attacks in the Abyei region by both sides and points out this is certainly no way of advancing peaceful coexistence between North and South Sudan which we are all hoping for."

 Thousands of people have fled Abyei town after armed elements embarked on a rampage of burning and looting on Monday. According, Elisabeth Byrs of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) it is difficult to get the accurate number of the people who have fled Abyei town.   

CUT 2:      Elisabeth Byrs

"We have a rough estimate of 15,000 people displaced and around Agok town. But this additional displacement is taking place in an area of high return. That is why this creates a problem to exactly assess and get accurate of these newly displaced."

An assessment team that reached Agok by road from Wunrok on Monday was forced to return to the base of the UN mission because of security concerns. Elisabeth Byrs says that Doctors without Borders, a non-governmental organization known by its French acronym MSF has suspended its operation in Agok.

 CUT 3:         Elisabeth Byrs

"Reports indicate that prior to the decision to suspend their operation MSF received approximately 50 wounded people in their Agok health facilities. Plans are under way to establish bases in Wunrok and Touralei (sic). Five patients have also been received by NGO CCM in their Touralei Hospital."

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Right Navi Pillay is concerned about the plight of civilians in Abyei.  Here again is Rupert Colville.

CUT 4:         Rupert Colville

“The High Commissioner is calling for any remaining civilians in Abyei and any surrounding towns and villages to be protected by whoever is controlling that area and guarantee safe passage in line with international human rights and humanitarian law and she is in particular calling on the government of Sudan to ensure that in areas under its control homes and property are not burned and looted as has been the case up till now and those found responsible for such criminal acts should be brought to justice."

Navi Pillay is urging leaders of Sudan and South Sudan to explore a negotiated solution to the Abyei crisis and to avoid a descent into further conflict.

duration: 3’12″

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