Skips Darfur Debate, Reuters Poll Shows NGO Fear, Let the Grassroots Blogging
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN
UNITED NATIONS, May
24 -- The conflict in Darfur, says Sudan's Permanent Representative to the UN,
is one of resources and climate change, not genocide. Abdalhameed Abdalmahmood
Mohamad, ever the environmentalist,
argument at the New York Historical Society, in a Reuters event at which the
UN's Jean-Marie Guehenno had been slated to appear.
the debate, the Sudanese Ambassador said "your questions are for Mr. Guehenno"
and asserted that the UN has never issued an estimate of the number of deaths in
Darfur. There was no one there from the UN to offer a rebuttal, or an estimate.
"The UN isn't here today," said one panelist, exasperated.
half an hour before the event was to beginning, Inner City Press greeted Mr.
Guehenno leaving the UN building, and asked, "Are you going to the Darfur debate
at the New York Historical Society?" Mr. Guehenno appeared to say "yes."
listed as a fill-in was Guehenno's second in command, Hedi Annabi, whose
contract was not renewed by Ban Ki-moon. Mr. Annabi recently spent ten days on
the thankless task of assessing the UN's role in Ivory Coast, from which
president Gbagbo is seeking to oust the UN
or at least its election envoy, Gerard Stoudmann.
still smarting from that (un) welcome, Mr. Annabi was not present at Thursday's
Darfur debate either. The UN went unrepresented, except by
spokeswoman Lisa Szarkowski [said that] celebrities are often a vital, invaluable
part of raising public awareness. And she concedes that the hierarchy of
humanitarianism can be just as ruthless as that of any casting director or
nightclub doorman. For years, she has been trying to book longtime
activist/UNICEF ambassador Mia Farrow on various talk shows to discuss Darfur -
but no one wanted to book her, because she lacks pop cultural currency."
(NY Post of February 6, 2007)
Thursday's debate, Mia Farrow decried China's provision of weapons and a
presidential palace to Sudan. As Inner City Press reported earlier in the week,
Ms. Farrow's view of the Beijing Olympics as the "genocide games" has not been
backed up by the UN's sports for development Envoy, Djibril Diallo, click
that story. And now UN Peacekeeping's Number One and Number Two blow off a
much-publicized debate in New York. "Great public relations," one reported
muttered. "Only at the UN."
and Eliasson speak at UN - but no UN at West Side debate
Thursday's Darfur event, a bit jumpy, is available
other things, Abdalhameed Abdalmahmood Mohamad attacked the International Crisis
Group, as if it were a country, for its its "intimidation" and its claim to have
a "monopoly on knowledge." ICG shot back at Khartoum's "creative use of global
warming." Meanwhile cross-town at the UN, Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson confirmed
that when a member state wants an NGOs exhibition or documentary thrown out of
the building, the UN will oblige, in the case granting Vietnam's request to toss
out a film about the Hmong, click
also on Thursday released the results of a
poll over of 50 humanitarian workers in
Darfur, many of whom said they
fear to speak out on rape and other human rights abuses. This includes when they
themselves are victims: last week the Washington Post
the arrest of humanitarians, and the rape of one
staffer, in Darfur. The staffer does not want to be named -- because she wants
to continue working in Sudan. That's a level of commitment rarely seen in UN
City Press has suggested that Reuters AlertNet, which was demonstrated to UN
correspondents on Thursday, being to include blogs including from anonymous
sources, including those working for the UN. We hope to have more on this.
AlertNet's credit, while it currently does not list northeast Uganda's Karamoja
region among its 80 global crises, according to staffer Megan Rowling, a section
on the Karimojong is soon to
There are other services under consideration, on which Ms. Rowling did not
(yet) wish to be quoted. Humanitarian crisis, meet the Internet. Check. UN
Peacekeeping officials, debate Sudan's UN Ambassador -- that did not happen on
Thursday. While the crisis in Darfur won't be solved by talking alone, it's
to not talk is not helping
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