BY: Morris K. Yoll, CANADA, MAR/22/2014, SSN;
It is said, “the there is no smoke without fire.” As of December 15th, 2013, South Sudan government has lost its trust in UNMISS Chief representative and has accused her of supporting Dr. Riek and his rebels’ activities in the country. Though a few South Sudanese feel sympathetic, and think that it is unfair to ask UNMISS representative, Hilde Johnson, to leave the country, there are many and serious accusations labelled against Mrs. Johnson to just let her stay as the UN mission representative without proper investigation of her actions.
However, recent UNMISS’S guns, including landmines, transportation from Juba to Bentiu, Unity State, via road, has caught many people’s attention and indeed has provoked many citizens’ anger against UNMISS and Hilde Johnson’s role in ongoing civil war in the country.
In essence, there are indeed too many accusations against UNMISS made by government of South Sudan that could prompt curiosity in wanting to know the truth than simply dismissing alleged allegations without thoroughly probing for benefit of doubt.
After December 15th, 2013 Juba’s incident, officials of government of South Sudan ceaselessly accused the Representative of UN in South Sudan of supporting Dr. Riek’s rebels.
First, following the coup attempt on December 15th, the government claimed that Dr. Riek was sheltered in Juba UNMISS compound and that he was later, respectively, transported to Jonglei, Akob, unity state and finally flown to Nasir by the UN helicopter.
On one hand, UNMISS never satisfactorily rebutted this accusation to settle it. After this allegation, series of accusations followed: it was alleged that there were 20 UNMISS cars including some armoured cars, in Bor, that were used by rebels to fight government troops.
However, UNMISS officials, in this effect, failed to disclose that their cars were apprehended by rebels until weeks later when the SPLA captured the UN cars used by rebels.
Subsequently, and as a result, the government of South Sudan accused UNMISS of supporting rebels, harbouring rebels in its compound and supplying rebels with weapons, UNMISS cars, and intelligent information.
Indeed, UNMISS later on admitted that rebels have in fact seized theirs cars including tanks by force. Such admission fueled public suspicion than watering it. It is viewed as illogical for rebels to apprehend more than twenty (20) UN cars without a fight with UN’S forces to prevent rebels from taking UN’S properties.
Whereas, the BIG why is: why then did the UNMISS authority remain silent without reporting this incident until their cars captured later by the government troops from rebels, which in turn forced the UNMISS to disclose that rebels took possession of the UN properties by force.
It followed, as well, according to the GRSS authority, that rebels elements were transported by UNMISS helicopters, and that uniforms were found in UNMISS compound, in Bor town, but UNMISS did not account for guns let alone where about soldiers that abandoned their uniforms.
On the contrary, UNMISS officials down played these accusations, and to this day, failed to offer a plausible explanations to clarify these accusations rather than dismiss or belittling the government accusations and concerns against UNMISS collaboration with rebels in the country.
Moreover, the government discovered defected soldiers possessing guns inside UNMISS compound which forced UNMISS to search for guns at its compound, in Juba. Not the least, defected government troops are still in various UNMISS compound.
Frequently, incidents in which defected soldiers or rebels coming out from the UN compounds to join rebels when towns changed hands and running back to the UN shelters when the town falls to government troops or incidents where defected soldiers coming out to cause some kinds of trouble, are reported both in Juba, Malakal and Jonglei but UNMISS appeared to brush off these accusations or concerns.
Unrelentingly, government of South Sudan branded series of accusations against UNMISS such like uniforms detected in UNMISS helicopter that where intended to be flown to unity state when it was under rebel; that UNMISS helicopter showing up unsuspected in an area off their limit while rebels and government troops were engaged in battle.
Also, that the security agents of the GRSS have recorded communication of UNMISS representative talking to Dr. Riek in which she said the IDP will join Riek forces to overtake Juba; that UNMISS representative, from its undisclosed sources-yet to be learned, declared that Juba was going to be overrun by rebels that led to many embassies leaving South Sudan, when in fact rebels were nowhere around or close to Juba; and that UMISS shared its satellites intelligence around Bor with rebels.
The above accusations were a few allegations made by government of South Sudan against UNMISS and its representative.
Unfortunately, many people dismissed these accusations made by government of South Sudan against UNMISS on ground that the government was looking for excuses to cover up December 15th incident or simply being unfair to UNMISS representative.
Such a presumptuous dismissal of accusations that are consistent and seemingly bearing elements of truth, is irresponsible and perhaps a blunder in failing to look critically as to why the government of South Sudan all of certain changed its positive attitudes toward UNMISS’S positive role in the country.
In other words, despite positive roles played by the UNMISS in the country, why did people of South Sudan, just recently, charged it with involvement in the country affairs?
Clearly, something unwarranted must have transpired to create distrust of UNMISS in the country.
Had authority of the UN responsible and the international community taken the government of South Sudan’s allegations seriously, the relationship between the UN representative in South Sudan, Mrs. Johnson, would not have badly degraded as it is currently.
The United Nations forces are composed of military units from various countries which contributed their troops to the UN Mission in South Sudan. It is possible that someone else, rather than Hilde Johnson, within the UNMISS, may be inclined to doing a shady deal with rebels in the country.
This says that instead of UNMISS representative ignoring concerns labelled against UNMISS by government of South Sudan, it would have made lot of difference if she were to investigate the allegations made to ascertain the truth for benefit of doubt and for cordial relationships of UNMISS with citizens and the government of South Sudan in order for UNMISS to achieve its objective in conducive environs.
Frankly, South Sudan government has valid concerns about UNMISS’S ambiguous roles in current rebellion in the country.
First, it was alleged that Hilde Johnson, the UN representative, who is a head of UNMISS in South Sudan, has friendly relationship with Dr. Riek Machar.
If it is true that she has friendly relations with Dr. Riek, then from series of events and accusations, Mrs. Johnson relationship with former vice president might have seemingly blindfolded her in realizing her boundary when it came to the affairs of South Sudan as a sovereign nation and much to say in failing to execute her mission in the country without taking side.
For some reasons, it took UNMISS longer time to document atrocities made in various areas held by rebels in Jonglei, Unity State and Upper Nile. Sadly, it took UNMISS longer time than normal too admit rebels mass murdering and target killing in Malakal, Jonglei, Akobo, Baliet, and Unity state.
Simply speaking, for someone in a higher position to make relationship to the point of compromising duties and mission is unprofessional to say the least.
If the UNMISS representative’s relationship with certain politicians in the country made her inclined to particular side in the conflict that has taken the country to the war, then concerns regarding her actions or inaction in addressing necessary issues that effect stability of the country should justifiably be made by the government of South Sudan so that the United Nations authority that appointed her looks into her alleged negative roles in the country affairs.
She was not send to befriend or to admire politicians in South Sudan, but to help in delivering service, needed by civil population.
South Sudan government and South Sudanese decried effects of Hilde Johnson’s relationship with Dr. Riek in the affairs of the country is not out of blue, but from evidences now confirmed by apprehended UNMISS guns transported via land, discovered, in Rumbek, by the Lakes State officials.
The United Nations authority, instead of backing UNMISS representative up, should take her to task in accounting for her duties and failures.
Clearly, people were slaughtered in various UN compounds in South Sudan but for some reasons it took longer than normal for the UNMISS to criticize those responsible and not the least failed to protect civilians which is one of its duties in the country.
Why? Instead, Mrs. Johnson resorted to silence in avoiding addressing issues of concern that had occurred at her organization watch. However, she found voice in denying her involvement in the affairs of South Sudan.
With her influence and capability of her connections, as the UN representation, valid accusations and concerns of South Sudanese citizens are ignored by the UN, but hers or UNMISS shady deal in the country buried successfully.
But it was not too long for her luck and the luck of those who are working day and night to destabilize South Sudan to run out. Finally an infamous guns transportation to the UNITY State via road uncovered the dark side of the UNMISS role in South Sudan’s demise.
On March 7th, 2014, South Sudanese authority in Rumbek caught UNMISS red handed. Various weapons including BANNED landmines [if the landmine accusation is true], anti tank and anti aircraft artilleries, were finally discovered in the UNMISS disguised food shipments to the UNITY State.
This discovery prompted the UNMISS to admitted having made a terrible blunder in transporting guns through the land instead of air as stipulated in UNMISS-South Sudan weapons shipment Agreement.
Putting delivery of anti tanks, anti aircraft and artilleries aside, why bring landmines into the country in first place? From last civil war, which lasted for 22 years, United Nations knows that much of South Sudan areas are infested with landmines and many people in the country suffered limbs amputations as a result of landmines.
It is ridiculous for the United Nations forces to bring in more landmines to be used in a country that is already suffering from landmines used during the last civil war instead of helping in identifying and removing landmines already existing in the country or helping in demarcating areas with landmines, in the country, for safety of the population and safe usage of the land for badly needed agriculture purposes.
In contradiction, landmines use was banned in 1997 by the UN, non-governmental organization, international organizations and governments.
It is horrendous that the same United Nations that forbids landmine usage to consider using landmines in South Sudan when their mission in the country is to ensure that food relieves reach the needy in the country and as well when the UN’s duty in the country is maintaining harmony.
Even though two peace keepers were killed by the rebels in Akobo during this civil war in South Sudan, it never occurred that the UN troops fought with either rebels or government troops to merit the United Nations forces using landmines around their base to fence off their enemies.
This begs questions: Why bring bloody banned landmines into the country if such a weapon is for the UN forces protection? The landmines incident proves implicitly that there is more to story given by UNMISS about guns shipments to Unity State.
Claiming that guns were intended for Ghanaians forces, but mistakenly transported via land, instead of transporting them through the air, is duplicity at its best! Why then were BANNED landmines in the shipment?
Besides, the real concern of many South Sudanese is not a question as to whether guns delivery was for the UNMISS forces, but insecurity in the area through which thirteen (13) trucks full of guns, ammunitions, and horrible landmines, were transported through, via road.
UNMISS knows lawlessness and banditry that is ruling much of South Sudan countryside, especially in the Lake State and the Unity State where these guns were transported through the land.
Any bandit could have been lucky to get his hands on those lethal weapons, which would have been an imagining threat to security of innocent people of South Sudan that are still suffering grievance and abuses of last civil war.
Hence, instead of down casting outpour of South Sudanese cries, anger and concerns, can the UN, international community and South Sudanese that take UNMISS’S mistakes trivially, accords concerned South Sudanese rights to fearing mutilations of landmines and of lawlessness that could have resulted from UNMISS’S blunder in the country?
Many south Sudanese have blindly joined a line of those who think South Sudan government has acted irrationally in accusing UNMISS representative, Hilde Johnson, of supporting rebellions in the country.
Some feel that Hilde Johnson is a citizen of Norway, a country that helped Southern Sudan and South Sudanese during struggle; therefore, in their narrow views, it is unfair to criticize Mrs. Johnson’s wrong doings in the country.
But how about her failure in following through delivery of weapons agreement signed with South Sudan government that has resulted in Rumbek weapons apprehension saga?
Not only did transporting weapons through road a violation of an agreement that stipulated that UNMISS weapons be delivered through air, but it is said that UNMISS did not, in fact, inform Ministry of Defence of South Sudan, as spelt out in the agreement, of bring weapons into the country nor did it submit, to any authority of South Sudan concerned, detailed list of weapons that were to be transported within the country to UNMISS base in Bentiu.
Is such a violation of an agreement that ensures safe shipment of weapons into the country and safe transportation of weapons inside the country really normal to be simply ignored?
All in all, it is true that Norway stood with Southern Sudan during struggle. But it should also be noted that those who set out to help Southern Sudanese during struggle had moral obligations to do so; they did not do it to ask for something in return.
Indeed, there are countries that did more in helping South Sudan during struggle but stay away from meddling in South Sudan’s affairs after peace agreement.
Canada is one of friends that helped Southern Sudan and never asked something in returned. Friends that help, but ask nothing in return are friends in needs and deeds not friends that attach strings to their assistance.
Some South Sudanese feel that Norway helped south Sudan got its independence, and because of this Hilde Johnson should have free ride in the country. These South Sudanese need to separate Hilde Johnson from Norway. She is not an Ambassador of Norway in South Sudan but a head of UNMISS in the country.
Her mistakes are her individual’s shortcomings not Norway’s. Her failures in South Sudan are the United Nations failures not Norway’s. This says that South Sudan or South Sudanese have no qualm with Norway but Hilde Johnson who failed to separate her mission in the country with her individual’s affection and attraction to certain politicians and their political quests.
South Sudan cannot be taken advantage of and then we feel it is okay. It would be absurd if not abnormal feeling fine, as citizens, knowing UNMISS has violated our sovereignty. A mistake that could possibly mess up the country more is not that simple. T
he UN admitted it as a serious blunder and we should make sure the mistake is investigated to ascertain the truth for benefit of doubt. It is not a question of supporting rebels, but how about if such weapons fall into rebels’ ambush and finally their possession?
Would the UN feel okay with it? And would someone on top of the UN mission in the country be left unaccountable for the mistake? South Sudan has right to ask Mrs. Johnson to leave or her actions investigated. And the United Nations authorities should investigate her mistakes because such mistakes discredited and disadvantaged the United Nations’ role.
It is even appalling for the United Nations to blame South Sudanese for protesting illegal transportation of arms into or inside the country. The United Nations authorities themselves have admitted as a terrible mistake committed by UNMISS. It should be understandable that South Sudanese have right to protest wrong doing by UNMISS.
Surprisingly, the UN is planning to scale down UNMISS duties in the country due to this incident. Withholding necessary training or depriving government of South Sudan of training necessary for nation building is a deployed punishment that will not help South Sudan recover quickly but would surely affect its functions instead.
Since UNMISS authority agreed to stay in the country, it is logical for it to continue its mission and duties in good faith to help South Sudanese build their nation.
In actual sense, South Sudanese are not against UNMISS, as an organization, but with individuals running the affairs of UNMISS in the country that have, apparently, inclined to doing shady deals that would potentially destabilize the country more.
Therefore, the United Nations should instead continue offering its invaluable services needed in the country, meanwhile investigate accusations and concerns raised by government of South Sudan for benefit of doubts and as well works in rebuilding good relationship with South Sudanese civil population in order for it to function in a conducive and productive atmosphere in the country.
The United Nations has peace keepers all over the global and mistakes, like one made in South Sudan, could potentially fuel any conflict anywhere not only in South Sudan.
Morris Kuol Yoll is a concerned South Sudanese Canadian. He could be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.