Ban Ki-moon condemns shooting down of UN chopper in S Sudan

Sunday, December 23, 2012
[PHOTO: UNifeed] 
New York: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has condemned the shooting down of a United Nations helicopter in South Sudan on Friday – killing all four crew members onboard – by the country's armed forces and called for those responsible to be held to account, his spokesperson said.

Eduardo del Buey told reporters "initial reports indicate that the UN helicopter crashed and burnt" and after a search and recovery mission "it has confirmed the death of all four crew members."

The Russian-crewed MI-8 helicopter, part of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), had been on a reconnaissance flight at around 10:00 a.m. local time over the settlement of Likuangole, in the eastern state of Jonglei.

The reconnaissance was related to efforts to identify suitable landing places to facilitate the protection of civilians work in the state. There were no passengers onboard.

UNMISS has begun an investigation to establish the circumstances around the incident. The peacekeeping mission had immediately launched a search and recovery operation, which confirmed the death of all four crew members.

In communications between UNMISS and the SPLA, the Mission was told that the SPLA had shot at a helicopter in the Likuangole area on Friday.

South Sudan became independent from Sudan in July last year, six years after the signing of the peace agreement that ended decades of warfare between the north and the south. During the same month, the Security Council established UNMISS with the purpose of consolidating peace and security and to help establish conditions for development.

The UN's peacekeeping and humanitarian efforts in South Sudan are heavily reliant on helicopters to navigate the country's remote terrain. -UNifeed
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