UNMIS was working closely with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and National Congress Party (NCP) to determine types of assistance UNMIS would offer to support the upcoming referenda, according to a top UN official.
“UNMIS stands ready to deliver comprehensive logistical support and technical advice to the referendum commission,” UN Regional Coordinator for Southern Sudan David Gressly said at a press conference at UNMIS Juba on 28 June.
[Referenda are scheduled to be held in Southern Sudan on whether to secede or remain united with the north and in Abyei on whether to join North or Southern Sudan in January 2011.]
Preparations to set up offices supporting the referendum commission at the county level had begun, the Regional Coordinator added. “We have visited 40 county headquarters in Southern Sudan to assess sites for setting up offices … to help us deliver our logistical and technical support effectively.”
The UN would also offer training to 16,000 Southern Sudan Police Service (SSPS) officers in ensuring security for the referendum, Mr. Gressly said, adding that almost 1,500 police had already attended security courses last week at an SSPS site in Rajaf.
On the Disarmament Demobilization and Re-integration process, the Regional Coordinator said a total of 20,000 ex-combatants in Southern Sudan should be demobilized by the end of this year.
In the area of demining, Mr. Gressly said 2,000 kilometres of roads had been cleared during the 2009-2010 demining season, opening routes between Kassangor and Boma in Jongolei State, Karpeto and Moli in Central and Eastern Equatoria, and Riang and Wagnong in Northern Bahr El-Ghazal.
In addition, about 9.5 millionsquare metres of land had been certified by the UN Mine Action Office (UNMAO) and designated as a resettlement site for 5,000 displaced persons. Some 125,000 Southern Sudanese had received mine risk education and UNMAO had carried out nine victims assistance projects.
Turning to security, Mr. Gressly noted that UN Police had recently trained and graduated the first SSPS livestock anti-theft patrol unit in Jongolei state. Some 50 SSPS officers comprise the pilot unit, which will be replicated in other states plagued by chronic cattle rustling, depending on availability of funding.
On the country’s April elections, the Regional Coordiinator said, ““I want to take this opportunity to congratulate the people of Southern Sudan for their participation in the historic elections conducted two months ago.”
He noted that UN Police advisers had trained 10,000 members of the SSPS in security for the April elections, and that UNMIS had delivered logistical support and technical advice to the national elections commission.
Some 200 flights involving UNMIS aircraft operated between mid-March and middle of April to deliver elections material and personnel to remote polling stations in the south, and then retrieved material once voting was concluded. Most ballot papers, with a total weight of up to 700 tons, were delivered by road convoy to 5,744 polling stations across Southern Sudan.