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.

Sunday 24 April 2011

Still on leave

Being home for a short time is great - I've gotten to see the branches on the trees go from being mere sticks to being covered in fresh green leaves since I got home and I've gotten the whole living room rearranged.. and I still have about a week and a half until I'm going back to Sudan.

It's good to be home...

Thursday 14 April 2011

Good to be home again

The trip home this time around was a serious case of hurry up and wait...

First I had to rush when the helicopter arrived an hour earlier than it usually does - so I could spend a day in Juba. Mind you, that day in Juba was well spent - but at the end of it we still have the usual stress of MovCon wanting everyone to check in in less than 45 minutes so we could have the joy of sitting in the small waiting room for almost two hours...

Up in Khartoum I had just enough time to eat and repack before I had to hustle through check in again - check in ends an hour and a half before take off, and there is not much to do in Khartoum International Airport at night... and no where comfertable to sit either.

In Amsterdam there was quite a push from everyone to get through the passport control... I could almost have lifted my feet off the ground and just been carried along. But once the guy have glanced at my passport and asked if I was going home on leave there was little to do but grab a bite and wait patiently to board my next flight.

And once home in Oslo? Sit and wait for the bus - two hours.

So it is really good to be home for a couple of weeks - no stress of rushing around just to wait somewhere else

Tuesday 12 April 2011

Back in Khartoum, once again

Once again I am in Khartoum - today was supposed to be a full day in the big city, but due to the meeting in Juba I only got a few hours in town.

I'm really looking forward to my leave now. I know it's really not that long since my last one, but it'll be nice to be home for Easter and get early spring in Norway.

As for yesterdays hush-hush... the cat is out of the bag now, so I may speak more freely. Yesterday all the other Norwegian military personnel in southern Sudan meet with the Norwegian Minister of Defense, who was on a fact finding tour with a view to what Norway can provide if/when a new mission in South Sudan is rolled out. Very interesting, very worthwhile and better by far than sitting a whole day in Khartoum.

Monday 11 April 2011

Very busy day

Lets face it - I'm pretty beat right now.

This morning I had to make sure all the various papers and plans were ready for the G1 before I went on leave, and we had a meeting in the Welfare Committee to make sure everything would run smoothly with the Chairman (one of the Canadian UNPOLs) and the Treasurer (me) both away from the Team Site...

...that meeting was cut short by the helicopter arriving an hour or so before it's usual time, meaning we had to bolt. Once in Juba, the rest of the day was even busier - while mostly sitting still. While the Contingent Meeting was very interesting, with the Norwegian Senior informing us of what the current plan for the mission after 9th July is, the main reason we were gathered has been a little more hush-hush.... I'll talk about it when the news hits the media, but let it be sufficient to say right now that it involved a lot of sitting still in a variety of not to comfortable chairs. Still, even if I'm stiff and sore and not done - have another half day of it tomorrow - it have been interesting, informative and hopefully will be for the best.

Sunday 10 April 2011

Farewell to more friends

Three of our UNMOs leave us in May - well, actually six does, but the other three is on CTO right now. Since both the other 'wegian and I am heading to Juba tomorrow, and from there directly to CTO, the farewell party was held today to make sure we got to take part.
We had the party at their accommodation, and I think I good time was had by all - I know I certainly had a good old time.

Saturday 9 April 2011

Just another Saturday in Yei

A reasonable slow day, yet busy. Funny how things work that way...

In the morning we had a short training session on how to deal with helicopters arriving after dark, complete with setting out the landing lights and radio procedures. In the afternoon I did some housework and shopping, and in the evening we kept The Blue open again. Had about a dozen guests all told - both UN staff and NGOs. If we can keep The Blue open every weekend, the word will spread quickly and the next party (which I think will be the weekend I get back to Yei after my upcoming leave) will be a smash hit.

AC managed to sneak her way to a bowl of milk both for lunch and for an evening snack, and paid me back by kneading my leg and arm as she was a lapcat for all of five minutes. Kittens are fun, but have the attention span of a goldfish - any odd noise must be investigated!

Tomorrow I'll start packing my bags; I'll be heading up to Juba on Monday for a meeting of all the Norwegian UNMOs, and onward to Khartoum on Tuesday so I can catch the very, very early flight on Wednesday to head home for my leave. And by very early I mean 0120... the bars in Yei haven't even closed for the night at that time.

Friday 8 April 2011

Cats and bars

Or rather; one cat and one bar - Miss AC and The Blue.

Miss AC was most assuredly soaking up attention today - managed to talk me into giving her a bit of milk for both breakfast and lunch, the clever little lady.
 ..part of a delicious breakfast.
"Sure, you just go to the office - I'll keep this tasty milk safe in my tummy." 
Keeping me company for lunch
 "What you doing down here?"
 Tasty, tasty milk.. make sure to get every last drop
 And after lunch, lets explore... here AC is sniffing my radio, after having already examined my laptop and lunch.
 "I'm sure there is a lap here somewhere..."
 Furiously kneading.
Later in the afternoon we opened The Blue, just so people could swing by if they wanted a drink or a chat. And while they didn't make a run on the bar, like last weekend, it wasn't really bad either. We sold for about 90 pounds, meaning a profit around 25 pounds. Not shabby at all, seeing as how Friday really isn't that much of a party night in Yei anyway - the big day is Saturday and we'll be open.
 More decorations have made their way to our staff club.
The bar is looking more and more impressive. I especially like the wide range of non-alcoholic drinks to be had - water, two kinds of juice and six kinds of soda.

Thursday 7 April 2011

Cat at the door and SDP

As I opened my door to head to the office this morning, someone was waiting for me... luckily for her, I bought milk yesterday:
Tasty, tasty milk.
Please Sir, could I have another? Why, yes off course!
Later in the day I was Patrol Leader on a Short Duration Patrol down to Kaya, on the border to Uganda - partly to pick up two of our guys returning back from leave. It was very interesting to see the difference in vegetation since I was down there last in January.
 Not all cars make it all the way... and the ones which breaks down are broken down for parts.
 Little mountains dot the landscape... magma pipes? I don't know...
 Five minutes of "technical break".
 View towards the Kaya area and the Ugandan border.
 The suburbs of Kaya... living in the 'burbs is less desirable in South Sudan than it is in most of the western world.
The same little mountain as two pics ago, seen from the other side - the climb up is pretty steep, and a 4X4 is very handy to have.

Wednesday 6 April 2011

A bad few days for UN Peace Keepers

It's been a pretty rough few days for peace keepers across the globe...

On March 30th, a UNPOL was killed while patrolling in Haiti.
On the same day a MOVCON assistant was killed in a car accident in Uganda.
The day after we lost one in Cote d'Ivorie to a stray bullet.
Last Friday seven was killed in Mazar-e-sharif, as I'm sure everyone have heard about.
This Monday 33 passengers and crew lost their lives when a UN plane crashed during landing in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Yesterday a Police Advisor in Dafur was killed by carjackers.

Tuesday 5 April 2011

Sometimes good things happen

Our Team Site is scheduled to loose half of the UNMOs over the next two months, which would severely impact our ability to operate. Not only will we loose many man-years of experience, but we would also be stretched very thin trying to cope with all the patrols and other tasks we've to do.

Realizing this, and also realizing that in the UN nothing changes for the better unless you point and yell, I sat down this morning and wrote a mail to Sector; pointing out the issue at hand (the severe reduction in the number of UNMOs), the anticipated fall-out (more work per UNMO, less leave, less time to prepare for patrols and report afterwards) and also two suggestions for solution (send us UNMOs who are finishing training in Khartoum, or move UNMOs from another Team Site to Yei). No complaining, no whining, no finger pointing... just the facts.

Mail goes to Juba, who forwards it to Khartoum.

Just before the afternoon brief we get a phone call; a New UNMO from Nepal who found himself ordered to Yei! With a bit of luck he'll arrive next week... if I can get two more, most of the troubles with the Leave Plan will be gone, and I know our Operations Officer will be overjoyed too.

Look before you type...

Yesterday was most assuredly an office day - leave plans for May had to be drafted, checked and approved, followed by writing leave requests and MOPs... on top of the usual things the G1 do every day off course. Thankfully our G3 knows that the beginning of each month isn't great days to send me on patrols, so I had the whole day to deal with it.

Just one thing I had to remember... Look before you type!

Sunday 3 April 2011

Busy morning

Got up late - since I got t bed late. Went to the office to send the Daily Report. Got shanghaied to act as ALO for a Special Flight; two helicopters full of German VIPs and a pack of journalists. After that, was to go on patrol but car didn't start. After hunting down a working car and jumper cables, got car to work. Went on town patrol. Back in Team Site... and it wasn't even noon.

Just another Sunday in UNMIS.

The Blue

As some of you might know, I was elected to be the treasurer of the Yei Welfare Committee a couple of weeks ago. Our first mission? Whip the tukul that was built last year into shape, create a bar and have a party. Our given deadline? Two weeks...

We did it though - yesterday was the grand opening of The Blue: the combined bar and hangout we created. And it was a success too, with lots of visitors and a brisk sale in the bar. Off course the free finger food got legs to go on as well, and the dance floor saw a fair bit of use by guests from all nations.
 Not the best stocked bar in the world, but far from the worst.
 Our Peruvian friends brought snack - very tasty.
 The chairman of the Committee (on the left in shorts) saying a few words to officially open The Blue
 More than half the party was outdoors.
Dancing - or at least moving around on the dance floor - was popular
Dancing, dancing...
And to top it off, the final tally shows a nice profit too - nowhere near enough to make us rich, but plenty to keep the bar open. And we so plan to keep it open, Fridays and Saturdays to begin with, stretching to every day of the week if the interest warrants it.

Friday 1 April 2011

Movie night!

Movie, popcorn and coffee!

I can has another visit?

What more can I say? I have to buy some milk tomorrow for her...