According to reports coming out of the disputed Abyei area, the Sudanese government has followed up its recent military occupation with an effort to replace thousands of fleeing civilians with a massive influx of pro-government nomads. The UN expressed concern the move is part of an effort to ethnically cleanse the region.
The Abyei area’s future has been up in the air since the secession of Southern Sudan. The tiny region is extremely rich in oil but very split on whether to join the south or remain part of the Khartoum-based nation. A referendum is expected in the future.
But the referendum was expected to be very close, and the move to chase large numbers of pro-South residents out and move in pro-regime nomads could sway the vote decisively toward keeping the area under the Bashir government’s control.
The occupation began after a group of southern Sudan troops killed 22 northern troops who were being escorted out by the UN. In the wake of the attack, the northern government deployed thousands of troops and captured the region.