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Amid Bombing & Retaliation in Darfur, UN Has No Answers for 3 Day & Counting

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 26 -- What is UN Peacekeeping, and its Mission in Darfur in particular, doing? Are they unable, or simply unwilling, to provide basic information, including about the protection of civilians they are supposed to be engaged in?

   After UN Peacekeeping left unanswered a question about their inaction in Abyei as Sudan soldiers moved in for the kill, on December 23 Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson Martin Nesirky about their still ongoing $1 billion mission in Darfur:

Inner City Press: there are reports by the, I guess, newly-formed Revolutionary United Front that the Sudanese army is bombing in North Darfur and also they are fighting in South Darfur, and I have seen that… I see these daily [African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur] press releases, but they don’t seem to acknowledge this fighting. Is it not taking place, or are they not going out to verify it, or they are just not putting it in the statements?

Spokesperson Nesirky: Which fighting are you referring to particularly?

Inner City Press: Bombing in North Darfur described by the spokesmen of the Revolutionary United Front, and also an announcement by LJM that they themselves are fighting with the Government in South Darfur.

Spokesperson: Right, okay, I will check with our colleagues.

  This presumably meant the UN's colleagues in Darfur -- that is, staff there under envoy Ibrahim Gambari. In Sudan, Saturday and Sunday are not the weekend, there is not too much Christmas. Still, three days after the question was asked, there had been no answer at all.

  So on December 26, Inner City Press re-posed the question to two UNAMID spokespeople based in Sudan, along with a question about a UN staff member who we will for now leave unnamed:

"beyond Friday's still unanswered questions about bombing and fighting in Darfur, on deadline, this is a request for UNAMID / UN confirmation or denial that UNAMID staff member [ ] has been told by UNAMID not to return to Sudan, from which she is on leave, because the Government of Sudan has said she should leave the country in 72 hours. Separately please confirm or deny that [the staff member] has complained of harassment by senior UNAMID management, and respond to charge that this and the aforementioned barring from Sudan are connected."

   Since the retaliation charge involved Ibrahim Gambari, Inner City Press also sent the question to Mr. Gambari.

   The response, including to the three day old question about bombing in an area where the UN maintains a $1 billion peacekeeping mission with a protection of civilians mandate under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, has been from the spokesman for DPKO chief Herve Ladsous:

"your inquiry related to UNAMID has been sent to me. I am looking into it, but you will understand that it will take some time over this period to get information. I will not have an update for you today, but will make contact with you tomorrow."

   How can it be that on a simple question about bombing in an area where the UN and DPKO are spending $1 billion dollars, no answer has been possible in four days?

(c) UN Photo
Gambari claps & Ladsous (in suit) shakes, retaliation not shown

   Does DPKO not monitor or receive questions asked but not answer at the UN noon briefing, such as the now old question about DPKO intentional inaction in Abyei?

  To some it has come to appear that the spokesman for Ladsous is only that: a spokesman for a single reclusive bureaucrat -- Ladsous has been dodging stakeouts and press conferences since holding a single one in the months since he came in as the fourth Frenchman in a row to have the job, complete with baggage from Rwanda, Haiti and Ben Ali's Tunisia, all left unaddressed -- and not for the people of DPKO, who do much of the UN's work in the field.

On the question of retaliation, after the shameful development of the case, what's one more day? Watch this site.

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Click here for Sept 23, '11 about UN General Assembly

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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