Home | News    Saturday 6 August 2011

Sudan protests row over ‘normal’ holdup of UN Medivac


August 5, 2011 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan on Friday rejected and contrasted allegations accusing the country of delaying medical evacuation of UN peacekeepers in the contested region of Abyei, stoking tension with the world body as France and the U.S. expressed alarm over the incident.

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Sudan’s permanent envoy to the UN Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman (FILE)

Three wounded Ethiopian peacekeepers serving with the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) died on Thursday after Sudanese authorities refused to clear a UN helicopter for departure to evacuate them. The three blue helmets sustained their injuries when their patrol vehicle hit a landmine in the troubled region. Another peacekeeper died instantly.

Alain Le Roy, the outgoing UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, said that the Sudanese authorities delayed by three hours the take off of a UN Helicopter from the Kadugli, the state capital of the neighboring region of South Kordofan, to collect the wounded peacekeepers who, according to the UN official, died awaiting medical treatment.

He told reporters that the Sudanese authorities had threatened to shoot the aircraft down if it took off without clearance.

According to Le Roy, the Sudanese authorities’ action falls foul of the status of forces agreement made between the UN and the government of Sudan states, saying that the agreement states that medical evacuation flights do not require prior authorization.

He further said, however, that it was it was difficult to establish whether the lives of the three peacekeepers could have been saved if the helicopter had been allowed to take off immediately, adding that his boss UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon raised the issue with the Sudanese government.

The delay prompted France and the U.S. to express concern over the matter, with the former calling for an explanation to be presented to the UN Security Council.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said they were “alarmed by reports that the government of Sudan delayed granting the necessary flight clearances to allow the expeditious medical evacuation of the injured peacekeepers and threatened to shoot down any UN helicopter that attempted to access the area without approval."

"Three wounded soldiers died during this unnecessary delay," Clinton added. She went on to "strongly condemns ... [Sudan’s] non-compliance with its obligation and its obstruction of the work of the United Nations."

A statement released by the French foreign ministry said that Paris was “very worried about the conditions in which the four soldiers died. The wounded peacekeepers are said not have been quickly evacuated because of a lack of cooperation by the Sudanese authorities."

"We want all details about the conditions of the drama to be brought to light and that the results of the inquiry be presented to the Security Council," the statement added.

Meanwhile, the UN Security Council called for a meeting on Monday to discuss the situation in Sudan.

Sudan’s permanent envoy to the UN, Ambassador Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman, however, strongly protested the “normal” delay of the UN medical evacuation helicopter, disputing the alleged facts of the incident and citing a “bad history” of the UN in air transportation in Sudan.

"I would like to refute in the strongest possible terms what has been declared, that the Sudanese authorities delayed approval for the helicopter," Osman was quoted by Reuters, adding that "what [Le Roy] said is illogical and not correct."

He said the UN helicopter received approval for takeoff “in less than three hours. That is normal."

"When you request approval for a plane from a remote area in the wilderness there is a process to follow," he said, adding that the competent authorities had to ensure that “all measures of safety are there.”

According to the Sudanese diplomat, the UN’s previous patterns of action compelled Khartoum to “think twice” before clearing its flights for takeoff.

"When we receive any requests for overflying clearance for DPKO flights, we should think twice because I tell you they have a bad history," he told Reuters. "They have transported unauthorized people to safety and areas where they are not authorized to go to," he added without citing any example.

The row over the UN medical evacuation has added a new layer of tension to the relationship between the world body and Sudan after the latter accused the UN Security Council of attempting to “manipulate” the mandate of the joint UN-AU Peacekeeping Mission in Darfur (UNAMID).

Sudan, which recently decided not to renew mandate of the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) after South’s secession last month, also warned against the appointment of any former UNMIS employee in UNISFA.

UNISFA, established with a mandated strength of 4,200 Ethiopian peacekeepers to monitor the security situation in Abyei, has already deployed 1,500 troops. The mission was agreed between Sudan and South Sudan as part of security and political arrangements to defuse tension in the area following its seizure by Sudan’s army in May.

A referendum was supposed to decide the dispute in January but Sudan and South Sudan could not agree on who was allowed to vote.


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  • 6 August 2011 09:15, by DeltaBravo

    I really don’t understand why UN treated NORTHSUDAN GOVERNMENT like little baby. BASHIR is the worst President in SUDAN history. This Arab in Sudan dnt want Black African in Sudan.

    repondre message

    • 6 August 2011 16:01, by Alier42

      To DeltaBravo . I can not agree with you on the issue of Bashir being the worst president in sudan history.he deserved congratulation because we had got our independence in his era.there were so many presidents a head of him but we didn,t get any thing out of our struggling, but during Bashir time,we being entertained by our corruption goverment in Juba.

      repondre message

      • 7 August 2011 05:24, by Gabriel KK

        Hi Alier,
        please read the context and get Deltabravo message right. why do you praise criminal Bashir for nothing and why do you pretend to be Alier?

        repondre message

      • 7 August 2011 06:20, by Space

        come on Alier, the CPA and independentof of South Sudan come as a compelling situations for Khartoum, and they don’t deserve credit for that. They tired to fail the process by all course but it was impossible. Not complying with CPA and choice of people of South Sudan at that time was not logical and disaster to Khartoum. They don’t deserve anything over that.

        Khartoum games and tactics are outdated and they should not keep on committing grave mistakes when bigger messes committed in the past are awaiting them. Anything they do now will not go down with so many parties and they ought to be held accountable for thier action.

        repondre message

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