In preparation for their deployment, the team visited the Gok Machar RSB today to inspect the site and meet with the county commissioner and officials within the State High Committee they will be working with.
“Our main duty is to support and provide assistance to the (county level) sub-committee of the Referendum Bureau,” according to Mosisa Megersa, operations officer and team leader of the Gok Machar RSB.
With a responsibility to cover both Aweil West and Aweil North counties, the staff at the RSB will be working in two of the most densely populated areas of Southern Sudan.
The counties are also severely flood-affected and many areas will only be accessible by air. UNMIS currently has 24 helicopters deployed in Southern Sudan to provide logistical and other support to the referendum process.
The three UNVs in the Gok Machar team, from the UN Integrated Referendum and Electoral Division (UNIRED), have extensive experience in such support, having served in East Timor, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Sierra Leone and Ghana.
“I’m delighted to be here. I’m going to serve as an electoral logistics officer and I will be covering Aweil West and Aweil North from the Gok Machar base,” said UNV Mahanoy Ansue.
He added that the Sudanese people had undergone much suffering, having a similar history to his country of Sierra Leone, which had also been at war.
“People coming out of war need all the support they can get in order to stand on their feet and move forward,” said Mr. Ansue. “I’m here to reciprocate and hopefully I can contribute to making history in Sudan.”
The remaining members of the Gok Machar team include two UN Police officers, a security officer and a translator.
In support of the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission, UNMIS and UNIRED have begun deploying staff to RSBs around the region. A separate team has already been deployed to Mundri, Western Equatoria State.