12 May 2011 – To allay allegations that UNMIS is assisting rebels from the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), a mission delegation today visited the Western Equatoria State capital of Yambio.
Denying the allegations, delegation leader Commander Col. Shuman Kumar, who serves as UNMIS military commander in the Juba area of operations, stressed the peacekeeping role of UNMIS and its commitment to fully implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
Accompanied by UNMIS Chief Security Advisor Parakrama Siriwardana, Col. Kumar also met with State Governor Bangasi Joseph Bakosoro and discussed impediments to UNMIS patrols in the area.
The Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) detained a UN air patrol helicopter in Namutina for four hours on 28 April. In addition, the Arrow Boys blocked a UN Military Observer (UNMO) patrol to Birisi (15 kilometres from Yambio) on 5 May.
According to Governor Bakosoro, his state had not given any clearance for the UN flight to go to Namutina in Nagero County.
Staff Officer Operations Maj. Reaz Ahmed, however, said the helicopter had authorization from SPLA officials in Juba to patrol. In addition to the UNMOS, SPLA national monitor Maj. Mayen Mario Baak was on board.
"I think there is a problem of miscommunication," Commander Kumar said. "We will now coordinate more on the ground. We shall be talking to the brigade commander, county commissioner, so there is no more confusion about UN helicopters."
The delegation also spoke with the governor about reports on Yambio FM that UNMIS is supplying the LRA with weapons.
Acknowledging the communication gap between the UN and state security organs, Governor Bakosoro regretted media reports on Yambio FM that UNMMIS was giving the LRA weapons and promised to instruct the Ministry of Information to reverse them.
The two agreed to improve communication between UNMIS and state security organs and also to sensitize the public about UNMIS' role through workshops, development projects and media channels like UN Radio Miraya FM and Yambio FM.