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The flag of South Sudan flies over the ruins of a government office in Abyei, a town at the center of the contested Abyei region along the border between Sudan and South Sudan. Buildings here were looted and burned in 2011 when soldiers and militias from the northern Republic of Sudan swept through the area, chasing out more than 100,000 Dinka Ngok residents. A few thousand families have returned since northern combatants withdrew in 2012, yet their life is precarious. Although Ethiopian peacekeepers today patrol the region, renewed attacks by northern-backed Misseriya militias in 2013 have many worried. The African Union has proposed a new peace plan, including a referendum to be held in October 2013, but it has been rejected by the Misseriya and Khartoum.