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Amid Killing in S. Kordofan, What's Role of DPKO Peacekeepers There?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 10 -- After the UN from Sudan belated confirmed the killing of civilians in Kadugli, Southern Kordofan, left unanswered is what is the mandate of the UN Peacekeepers who maintain a "logistics bases" five kilometers outside of Kadugli town.

   Again and again, the UN has said it cannot confirm events, fightings or deaths in South Kordofan because it has no presence. After further Inner City Press questions on October 9, it was specified that the UN has access to government controlled parts of Southern Kordofan, but not those controlled by the SPLM-North.

  But even in and around Kadugli, what is the mandate (or commitment) of the troops under the control of the UN's Department of Peacekeeping Operations? This is the type of question that should be answered by current DPKO chief Herve Ladsous -- his predecessors Alain Le Roy and Jean-Marie Guehenno responded to questions like it -- but Ladsous outright refuses to answer ANY Press questions, because he hasn't liked coverage to date.

  So who WILL answer these questions? Inner City Press spoke with several representatives of Sudan's mission to the UN, who were dismissive of the UN's role and performance around Kadugli. One might even infer a certain pride in how constrained Ladsous' DPKO has agreed to be. The lack of answers certain doesn't increase confidence in DPKO, nor does Ladsous' past history. But questioning will continue.

   Here's from the UN's October 9 transcript:

Spokesperson Martin Nesirky: Just one thing I wanted to come back to you on, Matthew, that you asked about yesterday on South Kordofan... you asked about aid, and why it is that the UN is in Kadugli, but is not providing aid in other parts of South Kordofan. That is simply because the access has not yet been granted. As I think you are aware, we are able to provide relief to people affected by the conflict in Government-controlled areas. But, not so far in those areas controlled by the SPLM [Sudan People’s Liberation Movement] North. But, those that have been helped, more than 120,000 people, have received food aid since April of this year, and agricultural supplies have been given to 64,000 families. On the health side, more than 1.6 million people have been reached with essential services and treatment. Also, 200 health centres have been provided with medical services that reach 1.3 million people. So, what I am trying to say is that we need to have access to those areas that are not Government-controlled. But help is being provided to those that we can reach.

Inner City Press: Thanks a lot. The one questions I was left with was that UNISFA, the mission in Abyei, was using the airstrip or has some kind of a facility outside of Kadugli, does the sort of protection of civilians and kind of observational mandate of UNISFA, which obviously applies in Abyei, does it apply to UNISFA personnel for whatever time that they happen to either land, take off or spend in Kadugli and Southern Kordofan? It seems like the response is, 'we don’t know.' Is a DPKO [Department of Peacekeeping Operations] peacekeeper always a peacekeeper even on their way to the job? Do you understand what I am driving at here?

Spokesperson Nesirky: Well, the point here is that there is no UN mission presence, UNISFA presence, inside Kadugli itself. There is a logistics base five kilometers away, to which UN staff from this UNICEF [United Nations Children’s Fund] compound were taken because of what had happened inside Kadugli itself. The mission, of course, is monitoring what is happening, to the extent that they can, given their remit and their location. Any other questions?

   Yes, there ARE other questions. But some questions, it is DPKO chief Herve Ladsous who should answer them, particularly (but not only) when it's Ladsous whose sent to the stakeout to purport to answer questions, including on Abyei and UNISFA.

  DPKO has a history of inaction in Southern Kordofan. As Inner City Press reported, the previously UN report states, as simply one example, that

42. On 8 June, UNMIS Human Rights witnessed the movement of four armed men (two armed civilians and two Central Reserve Police) carrying weapons in and out of the UNMIS Protective Perimeter without any intervention from the UNMIS peacekeepers guarding the premises. The armed men conducted identity checks on the IDPs. Eyewitnesses interviewed reported that the armed men abducted three IDPs from the vicinity of the UNMIS Protective Perimeter on suspicion that they were supporters of the SPLM.

     It is time for answer from Ladsous. Watch this site.

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