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Jan 29, 2022 / 15:14

Vietnam sends first peacekeepers to prolonged conflict Abyei

The Vietnamese peacekeepers will work as military observers and in charge of civil-military cooperation in the violently contested area.

Vietnam’s President Nguyen Xuan Phuc has decided to assign seven officers to peacekeeping missions at the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA), theater of a long-running conflict in Africa.

Seven officers to perform United Nations peacekeeping missions in Abyei, Africa. Photo: Hieu Duy   

The Vietnamese peacekeepers will work as UN Military Observers (UNMO), senior staff officers, and for civil-military cooperation (CIMIC) in Abyei, a contested enclave between the Republic of Sudan and the Republic of South Sudan.

The officers will be tasked with performing missions assigned by the United Nations and building good relationships with missions and localities to support the deployment of the Engineer team in the future.

Two members of the team have finished their term at the United Nations peacekeeping mission for South Sudan (UNMISS) and the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA).

They are the first Vietnamese peacekeepers deployed in Abyei, a disputed border region of farmland, desert, and oil fields—has its origins in a long-running disagreement between two pastoralist groups, the local Ngok Dinka and Misseriyya Arab seasonal migrants. This conflict was instrumentalized and exacerbated by territorial competition between South Sudan and Sudan, who stand to gain from local oil reserves.

In June 2011, the United Nations Security Council sent peacekeepers to calm growing violence, as inter-communal attacks intensified. Vietnam sent peacekeepers there at the invitation of the United Nations.

The team is among nearly 300 hundred officers performing the UN peacekeeping missions since Vietnam participated in the missions in 2014 with the deployment in UNMISS and MINUSCA.