Dinka Ngok Chiefs and Misseriya Leaders To Restore Traditional Mechanisms of Monitoring Pastoral Migration in Abyei Area

Khartoum, 4 July 2007: Mutual trust between the Misseriya and Dinka Ngok was enhanced as leaders of both communities met in Abyei to discuss ways of restoring the traditional mechanisms of monitoring pastoral migration that has suffered the effects of a prolonged civil conflict. The meeting resulted in a joint statement in which traditional leaders of the Dinka Ngok and Misseriya communities agreed on a set of concrete measures, including the formation of Leaders’ Committee to coordinate and direct the annual migration movement of Misseriya nomads. Attached is a text of the joint statement signed on July 21st at the conclusion of the Abyei Forum.

The Misseriya cattle herders, also known as Baggara, move according to a biannual seasonal migration. Every year, during the months of November and December- the period marking the end of the rainy season in the south- the Misseriya move their cattle from South Kordofan into Abyei area in search of green pasture for their cattle. They would remain in Abyei area until the beginning of the rainy season around May to June. During this migration, they use three routes. The eastern route follows the axis of Dibab-Nyama-Fa al-Dumboloya-Abu Kadama. The central route follows the Namatein-Siteb-Al Agad-Ajangaw line while the western route goes from Abu Jabra to Bahral Arab.

Discussions at the Abyei Forum focused on the central route while addressing issues related to the annual nomadic migration such as competition over water and grazing resources; timing of the migration; consequences of the new Padang National Reserve Park on the grassland area and migration route; control of large herds near farming areas; information flow on security situation; and the environmental consequences of the burning of grassland. The Misseriya and Dinka Ngok leaders also agreed that the chiefdom of Misseriya Aulad Umran and other ethnic groups in the area should be included in the next conference.


In the past, the Misseriya and Dinka Ngok used to hold annual tribal meetings (zufur) along the Bahr El Arab/Kiir River, during which they would discuss all conflicts related to the migration season and try to find settlement arrangements, including extreme cases involving homicide and abduction. The Abyei Forum marks a clear intention by both communities to restore this old tradition of conflict resolution, peace promotion and reconciliation.

The Abyei Area is considered as the bridge between the north and south of Sudan. The Misseriya and the Dinka Ngok have long shared resources in the area. But the two-decade long civil war sparked the dispute over the oil-rich Abyei territory. Following the signing of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, Abyei Boundary Commission was established to determine the exact border, based on historical records and community testimonies. The Commission's findings have been disputed since July 2005. This week the Joint Executive Committee that includes members of the National Congress Party (NCP) and Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), agreed to establish a six-member committee to work towards a permanent solution to the Abyei issue.

The joint statement signed at the conclusion of the Abyei Forum marks another step toward community peace and reconciliation. In addition to the participation of 24 traditional leaders from Dinka Ngok and Misseriya communities, representatives of the Administration Unit Executive Team, Joint Integrated Unit, UNDP, UNMIS and UN agencies, INGOs and National NGOs in Abyei also attended the Forum.

The Forum was organized by UNDP following a request from the leaders of the two communities. With the generous support of UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the Embassy of the Netherlands for the Recovery of Abyei Area through Good Governance and Poverty Reduction project, UNDP assists Abyei communities to peacefully resolve their differences at the grassroots level by organizing similar events for leaders, women and youth.

In support of sustainable reintegration of the war-affected populations in the area, the project is also constructing water yards, grinding mills and market centers; training beneficiaries on how to operate these basic infrastructures; organizing gender training sessions; and supporting women’s networks to advocate for an increased participation of women in decision-making processes. To promote access to justice and human rights, the project trains police in Abyei and Agok in collaboration with UN Police, and trains members of Abyei Human Rights group who in their turn have started promoting human rights at community levels. In addition, the project has constructed and furnished the first traditional Chief’s Court and a police station in Abyei Town, and built and furnished a Justice & Confidence Centre to be soon handed-over to the local authority.

***

For more information on the Recovery of Abyei Area through Good Governance and Poverty Reduction project please contact:

Gul Mohammed Fazli: Head Of Office. UNDP Sudan: gul.fazli@undp.org
Edith Rotich: Governance Officer. UNDP Sudan: edith.rotich@undp.org
Aicha Elbasri: Communications Manager. UNDP Sudan: aicha.elbasri@undp.org
Please visit the project’s webpage: www.sd.undp.org/projects/abyei/abyei.htm

***

UNDP is the UN’s global development network, advocating for change and connecting countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build a better life.