from RAJI BASHIR in Khartoum, Sudan
KHARTOUM – DISINFORMATION circulating online and social media that United Nations peacekeepers are arming some youth in a region disputed by Sudan and South Sudan could agitate an already dire crisis.
The United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) has raised concern at such reports, which come as the former faces an escalating civil war and the latter suffers intermittent conflict.
The reports, which UNISFA has dismissed, alleged that third-party commercial trucks carrying UNISFA contingent-owned equipment, being transported to Abyei from the Port of Mombasa, Kenya, were to be used to equip an armed group operating in Abyei.
Separately, another shipment of five trucks, transporting UN-owned equipment containing logistics items enroute to Abyei from Wau, was diverted back to Wau for inspection by South Sudan’s authorities.
UNISFA stated this action was prompted by inaccurate reports claiming that these trucks were transporting weapons and ammunition.
The UN mission disclosed the trucks were subsequently released by the authorities after inspection.
All logistics supplies of the mission, which were previously received through the Port of Sudan, are currently being shipped through the Port of Mombasa via South Sudan to Abyei, due to the ongoing crisis in Sudan, it stated.
UNISFA believes the reports were being spread with the intention to escalate tensions in the Abyei area and undermine the mission’s impartiality.
It called on the public to ignore disinformation and desist from spreading it further.
“The mission remains fully committed to implementing its mandate and continues to work closely with the local communities, authorities, and international partners to support peace and security in Abyei.”
The oil-rich Abyei, at the border between the two countries, remains disputed since South Sudan gained independence in 2011.
It is a weapon-free area that should not have the presence of any force either conventional or armed elements of both countries.
UNISFA was deployed in 2011.
Relations between South Sudan and Sudan have been poor, with both sides supporting rebel groups in the other’s territory.
– CAJ News