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Amid Bombs in S. Kordofan, UN Refuses to Report, Rights Up Front?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 20 -- Amid reports of bombings in South Kordofan, with the government bombing areas held by the SPLM-North rebels, and this group shelling regional capital Kadugli, Inner City Press on Wednesday asked UN spokesperson Farhan Haq what the UN can say about this, including in light of its announced polio vaccination plans.

  Haq said the UN has no presence in Southern Kordofan.

  Inner City Press pointed out, as it has before, that UN Peacekeeping's Abyei mission UNISFA has an office in Kadugli. There is also presumably a wider UN presence, given the statement that the UN stands ready to vaccinate throughout Southern Kordofan.

  But Haq insisted that since the UN Peacekeeping office in Kadugli is part of UNISFA whose area of action is in neighboring Abyei, the UN cannot or will not speak about bombings in Southern Kordofan.

  But Secretary General Ban Ki-moon recently described to the General Assembly his new "Rights Up Front" plan, meant to address the failures shown by UN inaction in Sri Lanka in 2009 when 40,000 civilians were killed. It claims the UN will from now on proactively look out for abuses and report them.

So why not in Southern Kordofan? What does "Rights Up Front" mean?

Later on Wednesday, Haq's office sent a response not from UN Peacekeeping, whose chief Herve Ladsous has been allowed to refuse all Press questions (video here, UK coverage here), but rather from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:

Subject: Your question on South Kordofan
From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply [at]
Date: Wed, Nov 20, 2013 at 3:30 PM
To: Matthew.Lee [at]

Regarding your question at today’s Noon briefing, we have the following from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:

The UN remains deeply concerned that the polio vaccination campaign has still not gone ahead in SPLM-N areas of South Kordofan and Blue Nile. Cessation of hostilities is essential before the vaccination campaign can go ahead. The UN continues to call on the parties to cease hostilities and agree on outstanding logistical issues to allow this purely humanitarian initiative to go ahead.

The UN stands ready to implement the vaccination campaign at short notice as soon as the parties agree to a cessation of hostilities, provide security assurances and resolve outstanding logistical questions.”

  It will be hard to get "security assurances" amid government bombing, and rebel shelling of Kadugli -- especially if the UN refuses to look at or report on these, despite Ban's supposed "Rights Up Front" plan. Watch this site.


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