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In S. Sudan, Still No UN Count, "Not Smooth" But When Did Ban Take Action?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 20 -- With bloodshed continuing in South Sudan's Jonglei State, Inner City Press on Friday asked UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky what Ban meant when he said that while "we saw it coming weeks before... At the critical moment, I was reduced to begging."

  Specifically, Inner City Press asked if Ban had started this "begging" in mid November, when the Russians informed the UN they would not fly their helicopters in South Sudan any more, or only at Christmas, when after five weeks without UN military helicopter coverage, the bloodshed started in Pibor? Video here, from Minute 7:17.

  Nesirky didn't directly answer, rather than that it was "not just the Secretary General working the phone." This leads to the question: while Ban in his January 18 speech appears to shift all the blame elsewhere, did he get involved early enough in the critical lack of helicopters to protect civilians in one of the UN's high profile missions?

  Nesirky said, "no one is saying this went as smoothly as we had wanted," and noted that Ban's envoy Hilde Johnson will appear next week by video link and Inner City Press may want to ask her. Fine -- but what about being able to ask Ban Ki-moon about it during his January 25 Q&A?

  Nesirky also said that Johnson's deputy Lise Grande conducted a video briefing after visiting Pibor. She did -- but she didn't mention that the UN had not had military helicopters, and had not brought "lethal assets to dissuade" attacks. The UN only began to speak about that after the Press was informed about the lack, by a member state, and reported it.

(c) UN Photo
Ban & his spokesman: Qs on Pibor (un) protecting civilians allowed Jan 25?

  Despite South Sudan elected officials providing numbers, high in Pibor and 80 in Duk County, Nesirky did not answer Inner City Press' question if the UN has its own number(s) in Duk, and if it yet has a casually figure in Pibor.

  The UN goes on issuing casualty figures in places it has little presence on the ground, while not doing so in South Sudan where it has a large peacekeeping mission. There are many outstanding questions, that not only Hilde Johnson but Ban Ki-moon should answer. Watch this site.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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