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On Peacekeeper Killed in Sudan, OCHA Responds, DPKO Silent, 1-Way UNIC

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 22 -- While the question of who killed an Ethiopian UN peacekeeper in Kadugli, Sudan on June 14, asked by Inner City Press at the UN noon briefings of June 14 and June 18, has still not been answered by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's Office of the Spokesperson or UN Peacekeeping (DPKO), the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Sudan has to its credit responded.

Acting on DPKO's failure to answer the question, a pattern under Under Secretary General Herve Ladsous, the new Free UN Coalition for Access asked in Sudan not only OCHA but the UN Information Center, which tweeted a link to OCHA's report.

That report said without qualification that the peacekeeper's death was due to shelling by the SPLM-North rebels. FUNCA asked: “This says SPLM-N killed the peacekeeper; OSSG & DPKO haven't said that. Explain?”

  UNIC Khartoum, run by the UN Department of Public Information, has yet to respond. But OCHA Sudan, again to its credit, did: “@FUNCA_info, the bulletin says 'according to media reports'... plus, SPLM-N press release claims responsibility for Kadugli shelling.”

  The part about the press release is true, making DPKO's silence all the more troubling, given that the UN immediately condemns after such claims the Taliban in Afghanistan and Al Shabaab in Somalia.

  But the OCHA report does not cite “media reports” for who was doing the deadly shelling, only for WHY they were doing it:

"On 14 June, a member of the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) was killed and two others injured when shells fired by the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) hit the UNISFA logistics base in Kadugli, the state capital of South Kordofan. According to media reports the shelling was aimed at military targets in Kadugli"

  But we want to again highlight OCHA's responsiveness -- they did the same thing earlier this year when a report of their on Haiti was mistranslated and called the residents of IDP camps in Haiti promiscuous. Once it was pointed out, they explained, and re-did the report.

By contrast, Ladsous' DPKO did not even explain an early attribution of the attack to South Sudan. Ladsous' spokesperson Kieran Dwyer put out a statement masquerading as a UN News article on June 14, that "'We condemn in the strongest terms this shelling. It is essential that the Governments of Sudan and South Sudan immediately cease hostilities and resume ceasefire negotiations,' Mr. Dwyer said."

This statement including South Sudan, though corrected to "SPLM-North" without explanation by Reuters, remains online not only on Reuters' website, but also on the Daily Star in Lebanon;; the Premium Times in Nigeria, via NAN; Euronews and the Star in Malaysia, both again with the quadruple byline "Reporting By Michelle Nichols in New York and Khalid Abdelaziz in Khartoum; Writing by Maggie Fick; Editing by Michael Roddy."

  Still no explanation. And we note that the Department of PUBLIC Information's Khartoum UNIC did not respond.

  Rather it continues blithely one-way tweeting about the UN “Day of Public Service” and a June 24 meeting on sexual violence in conflict -- can you say, Ladsous' cover up of 135 rapes in Minova by two units of the Congolese Army that UN still supports? -- a meeting we will cover, on belatedly provided benches but not yet any worktable, which in the past facilitated new media coverage of the Security Council. Watch this site.

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