A church elder was killed, and several religious buildings were destroyed on 14 February in a widespread attack on Aneet market on the border of the disputed oil-rich region of Abyei in Sudan and Twic County in South Sudan.
The Tuj Ajakjch tribe, to which President Salva Kiir of South Sudan belongs, attacked Aneet town after claiming that it belongs to them, and instructed all of its residents to leave. Buildings belonging to the Pentecostal Church and Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church (SPEC), as well as a local mosque, were completely destroyed, while those belong to the Episcopal and Catholic churches were partially destroyed. The main market was also burned.
A SPEC elder, Paul Kouk, 19, was killed in the attack, and all of the residents of Aneet have reportedly fled to northern Abyei. The UN Office for the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has reported that at least 15 other residents were killed in clashes in the area between 10 and 16 February, including two humanitarian workers, and 70,000 people have been displaced.
CSW’s Founder President Mervyn Thomas said: “We extend our deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of Paul Kouk, and to the entire community of Aneet, who have been forced to flee their homes following this appalling attack. We urge the South Sudanese authorities and the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) to work swiftly to address the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation, restore security, and enable residents to return to their homes.”
The oil-rich Abyei region lies on the border of Sudan and South Sudan. Despite arrangements for its future contained in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed in 2005 between the al Bashir government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), administrative arrangements for the region are yet to be settled.
The CPA stipulated that the people of Abyei should participate in a referendum to decide whether to join South Sudan or remain part of Sudan. Eleven years after the referendum was due to take place, UNISFA remains the main military presence in the restive region.