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UN in S. Sudan Confirms Akobo Deaths 11 Hours After India Told Press, Why?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 20, updated -- India's Permanent Representative to the UN Asoke Mukerji told the Press on the afternoon of December 19 of the killing of two of his country's peacekeepers in Akobo in South Sudan. Click here for that Inner City Press story.

  Mukerji asked Inner City Press if there had been any accountability for the previous killing of Indian peacekeepers in South Sudan, and called for that in this case.

  The UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, whose Herve Ladsous' spokesperson stood to the side while Mukerji spoke to the press, never issued anything publicly on December 19. One of his or Ladsous' favored scribes re-reported what Mukerji had said, along with a notation from DPKO to take the information with caution.

   Eleven hours later, the UN Mission in South Sudan via its just started Twitter account said its helicopter flights had confirmed the death of two Indian Battalion soldiers, and as Mukerji had told the Press, the wounding of another.

  The question arises: how could the Indian Mission in New York get this information 11 hours before DPKO? The UN said its communication with its Akobo base were down. Obviously, India's communications weren't down. What is wrong with Ladsous' DPKO, and the UN more generally?

  Mukerji reminded Inner City Press of the ruling of the previous UN Legal Counsel Patricia O'Brien that with the Force Intervention Brigade on the Democratic Republic of the Congo - and now with peacekeepers in Mali shooting at civilians and co-housing with France's Serval force -- UN peacekeepers are becoming combatants, parties to armed conflict.

  Murkerji said that troop contributing countries should be told this. This would seem to be the job of Ladsous (who says he "has a policy" of not answering Press questions) and of the President of the Security Council.

  This month that is France's Gerard Araud, who left a December 19 Peacekeeping seminar before the moment of silence, tweeted by Inner City Press, for the Indian peacekeepers. Most recently he refused to answer specific questions about intermingling with Serval making UN peacekeepers combatants, calling it micro-management and chiding the question.

  Then the French Mission to the UN deleted the question and Araud's answer from its "transcript" of Araud's stakeout.

We are still endeavoring to find out more about the killings in South Sudan, and for accountability. So far, without any assistance or transparency from Ladsous' UN Peacekeeping. Watch this site.

Update: Forty minutes after publication of the above, DPKO through the UN Spokesperson's Office belated e-mailed out that "aerial assessment" confirmed death of two peacekeepers. What -- UN has no communications like India does? Watch this site.


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