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UNMIS Conflict Profile - Misseriya & SPLA

UNMIS Conflict Profile - Misseriya & SPLA

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Published by: Sudan North-South Border Initiative on Nov 04, 2010
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UN Mission in SudanCivil Affairs DivisionConflict Profile 
Conflict SummaryConflict:
Missiriya - SPLA
Conflict Type:
political transition & socio-economic
SPLA, former Missiriya PDF & armed nomads, SAF
border demarcation, threat to traditional livelihoods, transitional political processes,
July 2008
States affected:
Southern Kordofan, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Unity, Warrap, Abyei Area
Conflict Type & Conflict Narrative.
 Political & Socio-economic
Since December 2007, the Missiriya have been engaged in a number of severeviolent conflicts with the SPLA. The Missiriya clashed violently with the SPLAnear Meiram (80 km northwest of Abyei) in December 2007 and again in March2008, causing a high number of fatalities on both sides. In April 2008 another clash occurred in the contested town of Kharasana and at an SPLA checkpoint 30km to the south. On each occasion the fighting continued for a number of daysand involved heavy weaponry. There have been continual low-level acts of violence and abuse perpetrated by both sides since before the outbreak of seriousconflict. All clashes have taken place along Missiriya livestock migration routesand close to SPLA garrisons north of the 1/1/56 line.
The Missiriya are split into two branches: the Humr and Zuruq. The Humr inhabit what was Western Kordofan and their migration routes take them tograzing areas mainly around the contested area of Abyei (along the Bahr elArab/Kiir River), but also into Southern Darfur, Northern Bahr El Ghazal, andUnity State. The Zuruq mainly inhabit Lagawa province and their migrationstake them from northern Kordofan south to an area between Higlig and WhiteLakes, and also into Unity State. Historically, the distance between the two main
UN Mission in SudanCivil Affairs DivisionConflict Profile 
 branches of the tribe, Humr and Zuruq, has fluctuated from the extremes of almost complete separation to very close tribal unity. Currently, the two branchesare close, at the traditional leadership level at least, partly due to their commongrievances.Broadly, the Missiriya are losers from the CPA and are aggrieved on a number of fronts. The dismantling and integration of West Kordofan into South KordofanState, North Kordofan State, and the special-status province of Abyei representsthe loss of their home state and diminishes their representation at the state andnational level. They reject the ABC report and feel that the creation of anSPLM/A border that bisects their migration routes and largely cuts them off fromtheir dry season camps is an existential threat to their way of life and traditions.The Missiriya
had been auxiliary cattle-guards formed in the 1960sduring the first civil war to protect Baggara herds in their southward movements.They were revived after the 1972 Addis Ababa Agreement, with automaticweapons brought in from Libya, Chad, and Uganda and often with the support of Missiriya in the police and army. In the late 1980s they were armed again by theGoS, partly out of Missiriya demands for the means of self-protection against theSPLA and partly as a function of Khartoum’s militia strategy for fighting thewar. The Missiriya were significant contributors to the Popular Defense Forces(PDFs) that were the main northern militia force after 1989. Since the signing of the CPA, these PDFs have not been disarmed and can now be identified in threegroups: the Debab Forces that joined the SPLA; non-aligned PDF alienated from both Khartoum and the SPLM; and those PDFs still loyal to Khartoum. Thearmed fighters that have been clashing with the SPLA are from the latter twosections of the PDF.Furthermore, there are divisions within the Missiriya that exist alonggenerational lines. Missiriya youth movements and movements under non-traditional leaders, also deeply unsatisfied with the current situation, arechallenging and breaking away from the authority of the traditional leadership invarious directions..
SPLA is the official army for South Sudan during the CPA-mandated transition period. Neither party to the CPA has fully completed the withdrawal of forces onrespective sides of the 1/1/56 border line. The SPLA have maintained troops andgarrisons north of Abyei town and in the town of Kharasana. Before the CPA,the Southern Sudan Defense Force (SSDF) of Paulino Matib Nhial, currently theSPLA General Chief of Staff, was in control of Kharasana area. This paved theway for the SPLA’s presence in the area following the 2006 Juba Declarationand subsequent absorption of the SSDF into the SPLA. The SPLA has sincemaintained its troops inside and to the south of Kharasana, until the April 2008fighting between the Missiriya and SPLA led to the latter’s withdraw from thetown. During the fighting around Meiram, the SPLA withdrew southwardstemporarily on both occasions but returned soon after. Since the SAF – SPLAconflict in Abyei of 13-20 May and the signing of the Abyei Roadmap, theSPLA have withdrawn south of the 1/1/56 line. The SPLA, in Abyei largelymade up of Dinka Ngok, view the Misseriya with hostility due to the legacy of the brutal war in the area, the atrocities suffered by civilians and the suspicionthey are still being used as an NCP proxy force.
Although SAF maintain large numbers of troops close to the sites of theMissiriya–SPLA conflicts, they appear to have maintained a policy of non-engagement. In Meiram town itself there is a garrison of the 15
Division basedin Babanusa, and there is also a large SAF contingent south of Kharasana closeto the Heglig oil wells. However, SAF has not actively engaged in any of thefighting that has taken place. This has generated some anger among the Missiriyawho feel they deserve SAF support. There have been accusations that SAF provided support and medical assistance and that some of the Missiriya fighters
UN Mission in SudanCivil Affairs DivisionConflict Profile 
may also have been SAF soldiers. After the Abyei Roadmap, SAF is obligated towithdraw outside of the Abyei Interim Area. This yet to be fully implemented.Meiram and Heglig fall notably outside the Area.
Historical/Political Context
The Missiriya have bad memories of the period after the 1972 Addis Ababa peace agreement. The creation of the Southern regional government followingthe end of the first civil war in 1972 brought challenges for the Missiriya. Thesouthern regional government, though weak in some respects, had far more powers than the northern provincial governments along its borders. Southernadministrators, army, and police tended to give local Dinka the sort of support insuch disputes that northern administrators had given the Baggara before 1972.Mobile police units patrolled the grazing grounds and often clashed violentlywith the Missiriya. From the late 1970s to the outbreak of civil war in 1983, theMissiriya were involved in numerous violent incidents. Taking positions in thenorthern-backed PDFs, the Missiriya were involved in some of the most intenseand brutal fighting of the war and targeting of civilians, especially south of Abyei. The war shattered relations between the Missiriya and Dinka Ngok, butthe tribe maintained good relations with the Nuer in northern Unity State largelydue to their affiliation with SAF.
Partly due to the faltering pace of CPA implementation, especially the AbyeiProtocol and border demarcation, there has been reluctance on both sides toredeploy their forces. The presence of the SPLA north of the 1/1/56 line has ledto numerous accusations from the Missiriya of checkpoints on migration andother movements, tax extortion from migrating herds, harassment, assault, andmurder. Many Missiriya state that this is reminiscent of the post-1972environment. They currently have little faith that their migrations and grazing – on which their livelihood as a nomadic community depends – will be guaranteedas stipulated in the CPA.The SPLM/A is aggrieved by the lack of progress over the implementation of the Abyei Protocol and what it claims to be a violation of the CPA on behalf of the NCP. The movement of SPLA and SAF troops around the Abyei area andother border locations is part of the maneuvering for advantage being played bythe two parties.
Threat & Risk Issues
MissiriyaMigration &Grazing rights
short and longterm
)Although the Abyei Roadmap has brought an element of stability to the regionfor the time being, continuing hostility between the Missiriya and the SPLAmeans the annual Missiriya move into the south will being a continuing source of instability. This will be increasingly so if Abyei is to secede with South Sudan, placing an international border across the Misseriya’s path.
SPLA Presence North of the 1/1/56  Line
Both the SPLA and SAF maintain troop presence north and south of the 1/1/56line in violation of the CPA. Continued SPLA presence north of the border antagonizes Missiriya nomads, especially former PDF soldiers and armedcivilians.
 Interference withmigrations/grazing 
Given the current level of tension any interference with migration and grazing or harassment of nomads will generate violent clashes.
 Armed Missiriya Nomads
Many in the SPLM demand that the Missiriya migrate into the south unarmed.Armed Missiriya entering southern territory will generate a hostile response fromthe SPLA.
A resolution of the 1/1/56 border or the final Abyei area border that is

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