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In S. Sudan, Fighting Escalates After Visit by UNSC & Ellen Loj

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 15 -- The South Sudan visit of the UN Security Council is over. And fighting has escalated, in Bentiu and in Ayod, Jonglei State and elsewhere.

   New UN envoy Ellen Loj accompanied the Security Council's trip, but it is not clear what if anything she has said yet. And what of the Council-threatened sanctions?

  Back on August 6 after six Nuer aid workers were killed in Maban County, South Sudan, the UN Security Council, as well as Ban Ki-moon and the US State Department, issued statements of outrage.

 The Security Council's statement, issued at 9 pm on August 6, called on "the Government of South Sudan to immediately take steps to ensure the safety of all civilians, to swiftly investigate these incidents, and to effectively bring the perpetrators of these heinous acts to justice, and to fully respect international human rights law and international humanitarian law."

  Meanwhile South Sudan president Salva Kiir was in Washington at the US' Africa Summit. At the Security Council Inner City Press asked Council president Mark Lyall Grant if the Council will meet Riek Machar during its now disclosed trip to South Sudan and the region. Lyall Grant said both sides will be talked to, but did not want to give details.

  Nor did the UN. When Inner City Press asked Ban's deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq to confirm that the aid workers needed to be evacuated were all Nuer, Haq refused. Who does this serve?

Hilde Johnson has left left as UN envoy to South Sudan. On June 30 when Johnson gave her last UN press briefing on June 30, Inner City Press asked her who used cluster bombs in this stage of the conflict, and about having in 2012 told Inner City Press that militia leader Peter Gadet leading “disarmament” was OK. Gadet is now under US sanctions.

  Johnson dodged on the cluster bombs, that UN Peacekeeping's UNMAS had made a report “to New York” -- still confidential -- and that she couldn't go beyond what UNMAS has said publicly: nothing.

  UN Peacekeeping under Herve Ladsous routinely refuses Press questions and refuses to provide the most basic answers, such as about flying sanctioned FDLR leader Rumuli in the DR Congo. It seems to have spread to Hilde Johnson, even as she leaves.

  On Gadet, Johnson recounted that he was a militia leader brought in by Salva Kiir's “Big Tent” strategy, which she said was “unavoidable” and brought peace. Well, it didn't bring peace: was it unavoidable? Doesn't the UN usually pretend to speak for accountability? Or not any more, under Ladsous?

Inner City Press had hand raised to ask another question, about press freedom. But Ban Ki-moon's spokesman gave some media but not other a second round. For this reason, setting aside the first question to UNCA, in this case Pamela Falk, is UNacceptable. When all questions can't be asked, no one should automatically get the first question. Will it even be reported on? Watch this site.


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