The Enough Project presents an interactive multimedia timeline of events leading up to the unfolding crisis in Abyei. For in-depth analysis of the history and politics behind the Abyei crisis, see Enough's Sudan publications, available at http://www.enoughproject.org/publications?filter0=15&filter1=All.
Created by Enough on May 24, 2011
Last updated: 06/10/11 at 02:46 PM
The Satellite Sentinel Project has documented evidence of attacks by armored vehicles and the destruction of villages in Sudan's disputed border region of Abyei following the reported bombardment and occupation of the area by the Sudan Armed Forces on May 20-21.
The Sudan Armed Forces, responds disproportionately to an attack by a southern unit on a U.N.-escorted convoy by indiscriminately bombarding and occupying the contested Abyei region along Sudan’s North-South border, prompting the civilian population of Abyei town to flee.
Three villages north of Abyei town are reportedly bombed, and a fourth reportedly bombed or shelled, according to multiple reports from sources on the ground. The bombings follow Thursday’s attack, reportedly by southern forces, on a U.N. convoy escorting Sudan Armed Forces that were part of a Joint Integrated Unit.
Despite an agreement between the northern and southern Sudanese armies to withdraw all unauthorized forces from the region by May 17, armed actors alligned with both sides remain in Abyei as the date passes.
Four U.N. peacekeepers were wounded by unidentified assailants while on patrol near Goli in the Abyei region. The Satellite Sentinel Project had previously identified a likely SAF-aligned military outpost at Goli.
At a U.N. facilitated meeting, northern and southern forces committed to implementing the Kadugli agreement and withdrawing unauthorized forces from Abyei between May 10 and 17.
Fighting breaks out when Sudanese Armed Forces troops that were part of the Joint Integrated Units come under attack by southern police forces, with 14 reported killed.
The Satellite Sentinel Project documents a massive military build-up, representing a significant increase in SAF's military capacity in the region.
New military fortifications and positions are established inside Abyei by armed actors linked to both North and South Sudan. These new developments follow outbreaks of violence and the burning down of three villages in Abyei of the previous week, raising the prospect of renewed conflict on an even more serious scale.
Enough Project obtains video footage of the razed villages of Maker Abior and Todach soon after recent attacks. The video shows huts still smoldering and dead bodies of southern police being loaded into the back of a pickup truck.
In the aftermath of a wave of violence in Abyei that leaves over 100 dead and three villages burned to the ground, tens of thousands of civilians flee. Other residents who remain in town are angry, disillusioned, and anxious.
Four days of intense fighting in Abyei region continue into today, a strong reminder that a political solution to the region’s highly disputed status is urgently needed. AFP quotes southern officials saying at least 70 people are killed and that two Dinka villages, Maker and Wungok, are burned to the ground.
80 people are killed during clashes at Todach, a town that was later burned to the ground. According to a source on the ground: “During the burning of Todach, the JIU units – the Joint Integrated Units of (southern) SPLA and northern (SAF) troops designed to improve security in the area – were about 500 meters just behind (the village). They didn’t do anything.”
In the weeks following the referendum, Abyei sees brutal attacks on convoys of southerners returning to their homeland. Southern returnees from two different convoys that were attacked tell Enough that the perpetrators are Misseriya militias. Returnees described terrifying attacks under a hail of bullets, as well as rapes and looting. One woman is slaughtered in front of 32 busloads of people.
High level talks on Abyei in Kadugli, South Kordofan result in a January 17 agreement to withdraw forces from Abyei and ease the crisis.
Hundreds of southern Sudanese families, trying to return to the South from Khartoum, come under attack by a Misseriya militia as they try to cross the North-South border.
Misseriya and Ngok Dinka leaders meet in Kadugli, the capital of the northern state of South Kordofan. Their ceasefire agreement includes compensation payments for those killed, and a safe passage zone for southerners returning from the North, but Abyei remains tense.
“If we let these issues fester, if they continue to fester, the more opportunities there will be for spoilers to undermine peace and stability between the North and South. This is the place where war can start. This is ground zero for the potential for a new war after the referendum, before southern Sudan becomes a sovereign state. And we need to invest diplomatically – the United States needs to invest diplomatically – right here in Abyei.” John Prendergast
In a historic referendum, millions of South Sudanese vote to secede from the north. However, the question of the Abyei region - where fighting breaks out between between the Misseryia and the Ngok Dinka on the eve of the vote - is left unresolved. One Misseriya is killed.
If war breaks out between North and South Sudan, Abyei will be at the center of the conflict. The North-South border region is becoming tenser by the day ahead of next month’s referendum on southern independence. Veteran multimedia journalist, Tim Freccia, recently spent time in the contested border region, and talked with residents about their fears of a return to war.