19 October 2010 - The United Nations would assist the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission deliver some 120 tons of equipment and materials for the referendum over the next 11 weeks, a senior UNMIS official said today in Juba.
Speaking at a press conference at the mission's southern headquarters, Regional Coordinator for Southern Sudan David Gressly said the National Congress Party and Sudan People's Liberation Movement had requested the UN to play a greater role (than during elections) in the run-up to the 2011 referendum.
"I am pleased to report that this expanded UNMIS role in the referendum process has been very warmly welcomed by senior government officials," Mr. Gressly said.
On 9 January, Southern Sudanese will go to the polls to vote for continued unity with the north or secession.
"With that date now less than three months away, we are stepping up our logistical and technical support," Mr. Gressly said. "We already have 24 helicopters in Southern Sudan, which will be used to transport personnel, equipment, referendum material, etc. to make sure those materials get out to where they belong."
Touching on referendum security, Mr. Gressly said the Southern Sudan Police Service (SSPS) had been receiving security training from UN Police. "Over 12,000 Southern Sudanese police personnel had completed these courses by late last week."
The SSPS forces will play a central role in securing polling centers and ballot boxes during the seven-day poll.
Currently, the mission is in the process of establishing Referendum Support Bases (RSBs) in the 10 southern states, which will support county-level referendum sub-committees with preparations for the vote.
The first county teams of UN Volunteers and UN Police advisers will be deployed to RSBs starting this Friday, the regional coordinator said.
Mr. Gressly added that UNMIS would work hard to ensure a successful referendum representing the will of the Southern Sudanese people. "We plan to do everything possible to help the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission and the Bureau here in Juba to achieve their objectives."