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At the UN, Belated Focus on Darfur Leaves NW Central African Republic Unprotected

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN

Click here and here for previous CAR coverage

UNITED NATIONS, August 21 -- In a report on Chad and the Central African Republic, considered by the UN Security Council on Tuesday, Ban Ki-moon and his staff write that

"The north-eastern Central African Republic, where there are currently 30,000 internally displaced persons, has also been destabilized by events originating in Darfur... The security situation in north-western Central African Republic, where 180,000 people are internally displaced... was underscored by the tragic killing on 11 June 2007 of a staff member of [MSF]."

            Just doing the math, of 30,000 IDPs in NE CAR, and six times that many in NW CAR, one would assume that the UN would be proposing a force to operate in the entire North, with emphasis on the northwest. But Ban's proposal is limited to "eastern Chad and the north-eastern CAR." Why?

            Tuesday, Inner City Press asked new French ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert to explain this limitation. Amb. Ripert said it is focused on 12 camps in Chad and only the north-eastern part of CAR "for the time being." But why?

            "The operation has to be coherent," Amb. Ripert said. "We are not dealing with the situation in Central African Republic per se." Exactly. Video here, from Minute 8:24

Northwest Central African Republic: on fire

            Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson:

Inner City Press: The Secretary-General's report that they are discussing today on Chad and the Central African Republic?  It says that in the Central African Republic in the north-east, next to Darfur, there are 30,000 internally displaced persons, and in the north-west, not touching Darfur but Cameroon, there are 180,000 internally displaced persons.  It seems to only propose UN engagement in the north-east.  Is that the correct reading of it?  His suggestions to the Security Council is focused on the north-east in the Central African Republic, which is not to say it is not a bad problem, but just by his own report, the north-west has six times as many internally displaced persons.  I am just trying to find out what the logic is of...

Spokesperson:  The logic is linked to the security problem.  Where the security problem lies -- that is what the Security Council is discussing right now -- and the report was to the Security Council and it is addressing issues of security for the internally displaced persons.  But in terms of care of the internally displaced persons, of course the large number of internally displaced persons that you mentioned is certainly being taken care of.

Question:  So, although it is not in this proposal, the UN funds, programs and agencies are present there?

Spokesperson:  Yes, they are.

            That's debatable. Earlier this month, NGOs including MSF said that the UN agencies were not fast enough in providing aid to NW CAR. Here, Team Ban wrote, and the Council members read, of the 180,000 IDPs in NW CAR. And even now, the opportunity is lost, in the name of coherence, in the belated focus on Darfur...

* * *

Clck here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army (which had to be finalized without DPA having respond.)  Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

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