I was in Abyei in May. The situation was, as the Chief Administrator described: "desperate". Employing a familiar tactic, Khartoum has backed, trained and armed a semi-nomadic Arab tribe, the Misseriya, while denying all responsibility for its repeated attacks on Abyei town and the areas villages. Most of the people had fled. I took this photo in the marketplace which would normally have been crowded with people.
From the marketplace you can see the barracks of UNMIS- the UN peacekeepers. In 2008, after watching the burning of Abyei from the barracks, U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan Richard Williamson said, "We pay a billion dollars a year for Unmis and they didn't leave their garrison. . . . U.N. peacekeepers were as close as 25 feet away. Sudanese homes were burned to the ground-despite the fact that UNMIS has a mission to intervene to protect innocent people."
And when Northern troops and tanks rolled in to Abyei last month, UNMIS , predictably and inexcusably locked themselves in their fortress and did nothing.