29 April 2011 – Seeking to address a severe lack of information in Abyei and surrounding communities, UNMIS joined with other partners today in equipping area people with radios.
The non-governmental organization National Democratic Institute (NDI) presented 111 transistor four-band radios in a ceremony to the Abyei Voters Education Forum (AVEF). The forum will pass them on to community leaders, county commissioners, school authorities and youth groups in Abyei.
"These radios are part of our access to information campaign and support for AVEF," said NDI Senior Programme Officer Mijack Ngok Adail.
He added that the donation, which was one of many to come in increasing awareness among Abyei people, was also a way of combating what he termed "ruthless rumours that are infused into Abyei society".
Also attending the event were Abyei Chief Administrator Deng Arop, Speaker Charles Abyei, Director General of Abyei Local Government Arop Alor, Local Government Minister Majith Yack and Ngok Dinka Chief Kuol Deng Kuol.
"Information from radio is better than rumours," said Minister Yack. "A radio is also portable. Take the radio with you anywhere you go," he urged Abyei citizens.
Chief Administrator Arop noted that "the rights to receive and disseminate information are fundamental rights of every citizen and are embedded in the United Nations' universal declaration of human rights".
"UNMIS and the international community have tried and continue to try to improve democracy in our country," he added. "Not many of our people know about (the) Abyei protocol, other agreements and UNMIS' contributions because there is a complete lack of proper means of information dissemination to the people."
The donation was the second time NDI had given radios to the people of Abyei. In 2008, the group gave winding (batteryless) radios to residents of the area.
UNMIS was represented at the radio handover by Seth Kumi, Acting Head of Office in Abyei.
The NDI is one of a few international NGOs helping UNMIS to strengthen rule of law, bridge the gap between government and people and assist with implementation of the country's Comprehensive Peace Agreement.