Monday, July 11, 2016

In South Sudan, UN Leak Cites Fire at Tomping, DSS Chief Drennan Suspends Travel To Or From Juba

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, July 11 -- In the UN's continued withholding of news and answers about South Sudan, the reports of the UN's own knowledge of abuses are now being withheld from its own impacted national staff.

As Inner City Press has reported including leaks, the UN on February 19 and April 16 ousted and evicted it, petition here, and on July 10 Inner City Press was ordered by UN Security to leave the UN Security Council stakeout while other favored correspondents could stay. This is censorship. Here now is UN's internal communication, signed off on by the head of UN Security:

"Exchange of heavy gunfire outside the UN house, at about 300 meter north of the main gate started in the early hours of 10 July 2016. Few rounds of mortar shells landed close to POC 1 and inside the UN house. IDPs in large numbers subsequently began to seek refuge inside the UN house. Heavy fighting continued throughout the day including movement of towed artillery, tanks and troops. Heavy fire was observed on the hill north-east of the main gate.  Fighting intensified in the afternoon near POC-3. Heavy and concentrated mortar rounds in the immediate vicinity of the UN house resulted in the SPLA IO troops concentrating around POC-1 western gate. UN

The UN Tomping compound area also witnessed build-up of heavily armed SPLA soldiers who took up positions and fired bursts of small arms weapon. Multiple instances of bursts of rapid small arms fire followed by heavy weapons and mortar were heard around the Tomping area all thought the day. A large number IDPs and civilians sought refuge inside UN compound in Tomping. The western gate of Tomping was affected by heavy fire.

Heavy fighting resumed this morning 11 July 2016, at about 08:50 hours in most parts of the city. UN house and Tomping compound witnessed intensified heavy bombardment with the use of mortar, tanks, artillery and fires from helicopter gunships. Other areas that witnessed armed activity where within close proximity of WFP, UNICEF, IOM and UNDP residential compounds. There was no direct impact on any of the AFP compounds

Below are some timeline:

10:41: Artillery shells lands into PoC 110:45: Two shells lands into RwandBatt injuring one soldier. A second shells land and injures 5 IDPS10: 58: Continuous SPLA   Artillery shells landing within PoC 1 and 311:02: Artillery shell and Helicopter gunship over flies the UN house and fires at SPLA io within close proximity of PoC 1 and 3.

At about 09:20, heavy fighting was also reported in Torit, Eastern Equatoria. Thousands of IDPs breached the camp access control and forced their way into the UN compound through the main entrance. DSS, TCC and UNPOL and Head of Field Office are trying to restore some form of control and orderliness. All UN staff in Torit are accounted for.

Fighting also erupted in Mundri town (Western Equatoria) at about 08:00 hours between armed youths and the SPLA. The fighting was as a result of armed youths attempting to destroy the Mundri Bridge. The SPLA managed to push back the armed youths. The situation in Mundri is tense but under control as at present. 5 UN Women staff members that were in Mundri on mission are accounted for.

There are a lot of injured IDPS inside the UN level 1 and 2 hospitals seeking treatment.

Please see the attached Communiqué electronically approved by Mr. Peter Drennan, Under-Secretary-General, Department of Safety and Security dated 10 July 2016 for your information.

The text in the document reads as follows:

1.        In view of the prevailing security situation in Juba, the Designated Official for South Sudan, in consultation with the Crisis Management Team, has recommended the temporary suspension of all incoming and outgoing official travel of UNSMS personnel to and from Juba until further notice, with exceptions to be decided by the Designated Official.

2.        I endorse the above recommendation and request UNSMS organizations to comply. Should any mission be deemed of critical importance, advance coordination with the Designated Official should take place for consideration and approval. The security situation is continuously monitored, and once permissible, the suspension will be reviewed."

Previously leaked to Inner City Press on early on July 10: two fatalities in UN "Protection of Civilians" camp 3, seven Chinese peacekeeper injured, three to four critically. And the role of Paul Malong, see below.

After more than three hours of meeting, on July 10 the UN Security Council members emerged. US Samantha Power spoke briefly, about getting more troops from regional countries.

Inner City Press then asked the Council's president for July, Koro Bessho of Japan, if an arms embargo had been discussed - no - and which countries are being looked to. He said he would not name names.Video here.

Could it be, as the UN's Herve Ladsous seeks to continue using in Central African Republic, from Burundi? We'll have more on this.  TheCouncil's Press Statement, has put online here.

Belatedly reaching the US Security Council stakeout on July 10, Inner City Press asked French Ambassador Francois Delattre about the injured peacekeepers - nothing -- then asked US Ambassador Samantha Power about the role of Paul Malong, should he be sanctioned? Again, nothing. After 6 pm, Inner City Press asked Angola's Ambassador about the use of attack helicopters; he said heavy weapons shouldn't be used.

The head of UN Peacekeeping Herve Ladsous, who should know or quit, said he couldn't give any casualty figures. Inner City Press asked about the seven Chinese peackeepers seriously injured it reported hours earlier; Ladsous said two more, beyond the Chinese. Inner City Press asked if his DPKO has dealt with Paul Malong. No answer. Video here.

Some say the US has been too quiet, even as aircraft are prepared in Djibouti for an evacuation. From US sources, citing a "hero from Benghazi," comes word of US personnel "trapped" in Juba, amid ambushes and NSA Susan Rice set to meet with South Sudanese diaspora / in exile, including Pagan Amum as well as Bakosoro, see below.

US officials Donald Booth and Susan Page have been informed of SPLA-IO reinforcements on their way and the role of Paul Malong, with Ugandan backing. Meanwhile officials of the UN, which has helped in the cover up, blithely tweet "shame on their leaders" -- are they aware of Malong? 

Inner City Press was delayed in getting to the Security Council stakeout by the eviction and accreditation downgrade by Team Ban Ki-moon as retaliation for reporting.

Here is a letter from NGOs to the Security Council, put onling by Inner City Press here.

The UN has responded by evicting Inner City Press from its long-time shared office in the UN on April 16, video here and here (Periscope). Still,  exclusively from inside UNMISS Inner City Press published three memos, including the first one listing 150 soldiers as killed. Now this, from the former governor of Western Equatoria State:

From: Joseph Bakosoro
Subject: Rescue South Sudan

SIR, As we mourn thousands of fighters and civilians in South Sudan in a brutal unnecessary war, I am appealing that do not abandon the remaining people struggling to survive from the hand of tyranny government. Seriously people need peace but not at the moment under the current leadership. There is no justification by the present leaders to kill innocent people because of struggle for power. We need to care for life and properties of citizens. If protectors turn predators, what choice can the citizens have. Let the international body and those friendly to the remaining South Sudan come to our aid to stop more bloodshed. I cannot be a leader to lead and govern tombs and empty land. Rwanda type is approaching South Sudan.  At the moment nobody among current leaders has a sense of protecting humanity but only self-actualization. US,UN, and TROIKA members have still upper hand to intervene even if it means military. Intervene on humanitarian ground. International body has full responsibility to stop blood shade in S. S. A country where every body is above the law cannot survive. I am appealing for your intervention Sir.
Bangasi Joseph Bakosoro
Former Governor WES South Sudan

Now as some of those fleeing are forced to climb over the UN's closed gates, with helicopters with links to Uganda's UPDF over Juba, here was the 
initial memo Inner City Press exclusively published:

“JUBA Nearly 150 soldiers are reported dead from Friday's clash between South Sudan's rival forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and those loyal to  the First Vice President Riek Machar.

The heavy fighting occurred on Friday near J1, the Presidential Palace, between troops of the South Sudanese army (SPLA) and protection unit of the First Vice President, Machar, of the SPLA in Opposition.

35 of the SPLA-IO soldiers lying dead and over 80 died from the SPLA’s side.

All the bodyguards of the First Vice President who were deployed on the street outside J1 were killed, said a senior SPLA officer.

A huge force came from nowhere and joined up with President Kiir’s tiger force and opened fire on Machar’s bodyguards deployed outside the Palace for protection."
On July 8 amid the surge in violence in South Sudan, the UN Ambassador of Lithuania, until recently on the UN Security Council, tweeted on Friday that the Council would meet that afternoon about the crisis.
But when ICP asked the month's President of the Council, Koro Bessho of Japan, he said there would be no Security Council meeting that afternoon. The Lithuania ambassador deleted the tweet; the UNTV crew took down their camera. This as, for example, World Vision went on lock-down in Juba. Ban Ki-moon, in China, issued a canned statement - this as his spokesman refuses Press questions about South Sudan, calling them "too granular." 

On July 7, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric about it, video here, UN Transcript here. Dujarric refused an answer, calling it "too granular."

The UN Department of Safety and Security situation report covers up what other sources say was the targeted assassination of an SPLA-IO soldier:

3.         Crime – Shooting:  On 05 July at about 10:30 hours in Juba, UN military personnel on patrol reported a shooting incident near the NISS HQ on Jebel Road.  The report indicated that an SPLA soldier who appeared to have been shot was taken away from the scene by other Host Government security personnel. The body of a deceased SPLA –IO was reportedly later discovered in the same general area. It could however not be ascertained if this was the same person earlier taken away by HG security personnel neither could it be confirmed if the cause of death was  as a result of gunshots.

On June 21, UN DSS issued and Inner City Press has obtained and exclusively publishes the below advisory about South Sudan - well, Juba - which contrasts to DSS officials' behavior, for example in New York where on February 19 they pushed Inner City Press into the street(apparently ordered to do so by DPI's Cristina Gallach), on March 10ordered it out of the UN contrary to published rules, and since then have harassed the Press even when it has a minder.