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On Abyei, UN Says Misseriya Fired 1st, Ladsous Leaves 6 Questions

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 6 -- After one UNISFA peacekeeper was killed in Abyei, along with paramount chief Kuol Deng Kuol, Inner City Press asked both UN Peacekeeping paramount chief Herve Ladsous, and UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky if UNISFA had provided notification of its travel.

  Ladsous refused to answer (a pattern, video here); Nesirky's office three hours after the noon briefing provided this:

Subject: Your questions on Abyei
From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply [at]
Date: Mon, May 6, 2013 at 3:19 PM
To: Matthew.Lee [at]

Regarding your questions on Abyei: UNISFA says that a Misseriya youth shot the Ngok Dinka Paramount Chief and one Ethiopian peacekeeper first. In the exchange of fire which followed, three Ethiopian peacekeepers were injured. UNISFA does not have confirmation about Misseriya casualties.

  It's appreciated, and answers the question of who the UN says fired first. But it does NOT answer the question Inner City Press asked at noon, and Ladsous. Here's that, and some other questions:

Again,did the UNISFA commander fail to get the permission necessary for travel in this area as described in a statement by the Sudan Ministry of the Interior?

Did the UNISFA commander provide adequate security to the Ngok civilians, given the known dispositions of armed groups in that area? With 4,000 peacekeepers in the area, how many were in the accompanying escort?

Was the travel to Defra necessary, if the earlier meeting in Abyei town had finished and the Sudanese delegation had returned to Khartoum?

Who set up the travel to Defra? Is it true as some say that the assailants knew exactly who was in which vehicle, and called for them by name to be produced?

Did the incident result in the deaths of Misseriya tribesmen as reported in Sudanese media but not elsewhere?

When can a detailed statement be expected? And why won't Ladsous answer Press questions, as Alain Le Roy and Jean-Marie Guehenno did, in the context of also critical and investigative coverage?

Meanwhile, Inner City Press asked the UK Mission to the UN and received back the following from Mission spokesperson Iona Thomas:

In response to your questions on Sudan, the UK has issued statements both about the rebel attacks on villages and on the killing of the Paramount Chief in Abyei. I understand that the attack in Abyei will be discussed under Any Other Business today [a Press Statement issued]

Speaking today [April 30], Foreign Office Minister for Africa Mark Simmonds and DFID Parliamentary Under Secretary of State Lynne Featherstone said:

We welcome the talks between the Government of Sudan and Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement – North (SPLM-N) that took place in Addis Ababa last week, the first time the two sides have met since June 2011 in an effort to end the conflict in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile. While it is disappointing that these talks did not result in an immediate ceasefire, they were an important step towards that goal, and we strongly support President Mbeki and the AU High Level Panel in taking this process forward.

It is very concerning however that while these talks were happening, armed groups including the SPLM-N undertook new offensive action in North Kordofan. It can only be through negotiation, not violence, that solutions to the problems in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile, and in Sudan as a whole, will be found. We condemn the new offensive, and all ongoing violence in the two states. We call on the two parties to commit in good faith to further constructive talks, that lead directly and swiftly to a ceasefire and a comprehensive solution that addresses political, security and humanitarian concerns.

The UK is already working with international partners to alleviate the humanitarian situation in both areas, including providing food for 18,000 people in Blue Nile State for the next eight months through the World Food Programme. We now need the UN to have full unimpeded access in both states, to allow us to understand what more help is needed, and ensuring that independent humanitarian agencies can start to provide the assistance required to all those in need.

30 April

UK Minister for Africa Mark Simmonds said:

I am very concerned to hear of the attack in Abyei on a group being escorted by peacekeepers from United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA), which led to the deaths of the Paramount Chief of the Ngok Dinka Deng Kuol Deng and an Ethiopian peacekeeper. I extend my condolences to the families of those killed and injured, to the Government of Ethiopia and the Ngok Dinka people.

I urge all communities in Abyei now to show restraint. This incident highlights the urgent need for the Governments of Sudan and South Sudan to implement agreements establishing interim institutions without further delay, and to make progress towards determining Abyei’s final status.”

5 May

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