In a tragic turn of events, a United Nations peacekeeper from Ghana lost their life during clashes between rival local groups in the Abyei region on the border of South Sudan and Sudan, as announced in a statement by the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA).
The clashes unfolded in three different locations within the Abyei area on Saturday, resulting in casualties and prompting the evacuation of civilians to UNISFA bases. The move aimed to ensure the safety of individuals caught up in the violent confrontations, according to the UNISFA statement.
Amid the conflict, one of the UNISFA bases came under attack. Although the assault was successfully repelled, it resulted in the tragic death of a Ghanaian peacekeeper, the statement said.
The statement also indicated that the UN mission is actively working to verify the precise number of individuals killed, injured, and displaced due to the violence.
Clashes between different communities are common in South Sudan, which is still reeling from years of a devastating war that pitted the country’s leader, Salva Kiir, against his former deputy, Riek Machar, in a battle between rival tribes. The U.N. statement did not say which tribes were involved in Saturday clashes.
The Abyei region, known for its abundant oil resources, frequently experiences episodes of violence, with rival factions within the Dinka ethnic group locked in a dispute over the location of an administrative boundary.
Adding to the complexity, the ownership of Abyei itself remains a subject of dispute between Sudan and South Sudan, which declared its independence from Sudan in 2011. As the UN mission navigates the aftermath of this recent tragedy, the broader issues of tribal tensions and territorial disputes in the Abyei region continue to pose significant challenges to peacekeeping efforts.