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On S. Sudan, Obama Says Work with UN, But 6 Qs UNanswered for 4 Hours

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 21 -- After news that three US military aircraft were fired at while approaching Bor in South Sudan, where some 15,000 people are in the UN base, Inner City Press put questions to US Africom and to the UN's two top spokespeople in New York.

  Africom quickly answered, twice. And the White House sent a statement that President Barack Obama was briefed, including by Susan Rice, and "reaffirmed the importance of continuing to work with the United Nations to secure our citizens in Bor."

  But from the UN came only an auto-response, that the acting deputy spokesperson will be out of the office until December 30, and to put any questions to the sole weekend duty officer of the Office of the Spokesperson for Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Inner City Press sent these, on the morning of December 21, more than four hours before deadline for this publication:

Now with 3 US aircraft shot over Bor, this is a press request for an update from the UN:

What is the UN's knowledge of military conflict in Bor, impact on civilians?

Is the army aligned with Salva Kiir seeking to re-take Bor? Is it coordinating in any way with UNMISS?

Since the beginning of the unrest in Juba, has UNMISS provided any support to which the UN's Human Rights Due Diligence Policy applies? If so, to which units?

Has any UN official spoken with Riek Machar during this period?

To the UN's knowledge, did Uganda or any other outside country take military action in Bor or elsewhere in South Sudan?

This is a request, including on behalf of the Free UN Coalition for Access, that the Office of the Spokesperson hold (noon) briefings during this phase of crisis in South Sudan, certainly on Monday, December 23.

  On Friday December 20, amid the South Sudan crisis, Farhan Haq announced that the UN would cancel its normal noon briefings, all the way through December 30.

While some information trickles out from UNMISS in Juba, which only started a twitter account last week, it comes late. For example, on the afternoon of December 20 outside a closed door meeting of Troop Contributing Countries in the UN basement, a diplomat from inside the meeting told Inner City Press that the UN had not been successful in its planned evacuation of its peacekeepers from Yuai, fired at.

Twenty two hours later, UNMISS confirmed this. Clearly, they are busy. That's why the UN's Office of the Spokesperson should be providing information, and / or Herve Ladsous' UN Peacekeeping. Their twitter account is blithely promoting itself, with a few re-tweets from UNMISS.

This is a time for the UN to communicate. But it is not. As was jotted during the Security Council's consultations on December 20, there is a credibility crisis for the UN. And it is getting worse. Watch this site.


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