The chief administrator of the disputed Abyei administrative area between Sudan and South Sudan has said over 21,000 returnees who fled the conflict in Sudan are in dire need of humanitarian assistance following deadly clashes over the weekend.
The returnees are scattered in different villages and in Abyei town, the BBC has learned.
On Saturday and Sunday, two armed youth groups from Warrap State in South Sudan raided Abyei, killing at least 52 people, including two UN peacekeepers.
The UN’s Interim Security Force (Unisfa) in Abyei is providing some food assistance for those who were displaced by the fighting and are camping inside its base, adding that the assistance cannot last long.
“The situation in Abyei is ‘more complicated’. There has been a lot of population here over the last two years, but they have not been able to cultivate because of insecurity. The influx of so many returnees from Sudan has also increased the population of the area,” chief administrator Chol Deng Alak told the BBC by phone from Abyei on Thursday.
He described the situation of the returnees in Abyei following Sunday’s deadly clashes as ‘dire’ and said that there was a need for “an urgent intervention” by humanitarian agencies.
Mr Alak says a delegation from the UN’s humanitarian agency and other international agencies are expected to arrive in Abyei on Friday to assess the needs of the people there.
Sudan and South Sudan have not yet resolved the dispute on the status of the oil-rich Abyei area. It is currently governed by a temporary ‘special administrative’ arrangement between the two countries.