Everything posted here is stricktly the opinion of the poster and shall not be taken to be the official position of UNMIS, UNMISS, UN, the Norwegian Armed Forces or any other organisation whatsoever.

Saturday 29 January 2011

A very difficult post

I have been agonizing over writing this post or not... but decided to go ahead - partly because this incident happened, partly as a warning and a reminder that not everyone who works for the UN is a bright, shining beacon of morality.

Yesterday, quite soon after I arrived back in the Team Site after the LDP, the Team Site Leader comes with a note containing a phone number and asks if I could check it against our UNMOs past and present...

Turn out a young Sudanese girl - I would say no more than 22-23 years old - had turned up at our gate with her beautiful newborn baby girl (only two weeks old) and were trying to find the father of said child. Pretty heartbreaking right there, but it gets worse.

Turns out that the girl had a relationship with the sleazy guy from March to October, when he "got moved to Juba" - and when the girl tried to call him when the birth was getting close the phone number she had did not connect. The last thing he did before disappearing was to give her two hundred US dollars to help pay for visits to the clinics, so he was not a complete bastard - only close.

Off course, the name she knew him under isn't one we have in our lists - nor does the UNPOLs know the name. She believed him to be an UNMO from Bangladesh - but if you live in the Team Site most locals will automatically assume you're an UNMO and are from Bangladesh... that is how things work around here. Being a "white man" in "uniform" is a description that fits a lot of people too; even more so once you realize that "white man" is a description the locals use on anyone from Arabs via Europeans to people from the Far East. Sadly she didn't have a last name, nor did she know where the sleaze used to live since they used to met in town or at her place. And most infuriating of all, she could not recall what flag the bastard had on his shoulder since he was in civilian clothes most of the time.

We spent a good long time showing her flags from around the world and photos of UNMOs past and present on the G1 computer... for each photo I pulled up that she did not recognize her shoulder sagged a little more... breaking the hearts of all of us present, but I think mostly the heart of our female Captain from Tanzania who was holding the little one at the time.

In the end the girl left our compound, shoulders sagging and feet barely lifting of the ground. While she has a loving home and probably is - from her clothing and the clothes of her baby girl - reasonable well off by the local standards, she didn't find the father of her child and the poor baby girl will probably grow up without a father.

Sometimes we hear about local girls showing up at UN compounds with babies, wanting money from the alleged fathers... but "our" girl was quite clear that it wasn't money she was after - she wanted the man she had given her heart to, so her baby girl could have a father... maybe not a father in Yei, but a father somewhere. We sent what scant information we have - a phone number and a first name that may or may not be his real name - to Juba, in the hope that they can unearth anything more. I'm not hopeful, sad to say.

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