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While Sudan Bars IDP Expert, UN Says IDP Camps in Darfur OK, Unsure of Arrests

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 22 -- In the wake of the UN Security Councils visit this month to Darfur, the Sudan regime of Omar al Bashir pursued sixteen internally displaced person camp residents who spoke to the Council, making threats and arrests.

 In New York on October 22, UN acting Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq said the UN couldn't confirm these reports, even those a UN Secretariat official is now scheduled to belatedly brief the Council on October 25 about the arrests.

Similarly, even though an internal UN document Inner City Press obtained while covering the Council's trip to Sudan reflects the shrinking and near closure of the Kalma IDP camp, the UN's Farhan Haq has said that Kalma camp is not, in fact, being closed down.

So was the internal UN document, shown by the UN to the Council members while in Darfur, incorrect?

While the Council was in Darfur, it asked to visit the Shangil Tobaya IDP camp, but could not. Days later, a Council diplomat told Inner City Press that the Council had been blocked from visiting Tobaya. Inner City Press asked, by whom? The government of UNAMID? Both, was the answer.

Now, in response to Inner City Press' question about people displaced by continued fighting in Jebel Marra going tot the Tobaya camp, the UN has said that it has full access to the camp, but sees nothing strange going on.

Subject: Your question on Shangil Tobaya
From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply
Date: Wed, Oct 20, 2010 at 3:44 PM
To: Matthew.Lee [at]

There are five IDP camps in Shangil Tobaya, and UNAMID regularly patrols all of them. UNAMID said that they have full access to these camps and that there hasn't been anything significant to report in them lately.

Could this be like the UN's patrol in Eastern Congo in early August, where in villages where mass rapes were taking place, the UN peacekeepers visited and concluded that nothing was going on?

Inner City Press on October 22 asked the outgoing Representative of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons Walter Kalin about the arrest of residents of Abu Shouk camp, and the dismantling of Kalma.

  While saying that such dismantling would violate international law, Kalin said he couldn't comment further because Sudan has rejected his request to visit the country.

Ban & Kalin on Oct 22, (advocacy for) permission to enter Sudan not shown

Likewise when Inner City Press asked the UN's Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living Raquel Rolnik about the housing rights not only for people in Darfur, but also nomadic tribes in Abyei and elsewhere, she said that she had asked to visit Sudan but was unable to.

A cynic compared this to Omar al Bashir allowing the Security Council to visit Darfur, to watch and learn who to target and arrest. What will the Council and UN Secretary do? Watch this site.

Footnote: also on October 22, Inner City Press asked the Number Two official in the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Catherine Bragg about recent UNICEF statements admitted that the Sudanese government blocks the collection and release of malnutrition data. It is not acceptable, Ms. Bragg said, that this is not released. As of September 15, OCHA chief Valeie Amos spoke of reviewing the UN's work. What has she found?

* * *

Sudan Blocking Malnutrition Data, Allowed by UN, Raised to Right to Food Rapporteur

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 21 -- On Darfur, first the UN stopped producing its Humanitarian Report, then it stopped producing any Global Malnutrition Data. In August 2010, Inner City Press asked why and was told the data would be available “in one or two days.” It wasn't.

In mid September, new Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos told Inner City Press that the delay was due to attempts to do “joint assessments” with the Sudanese government, whose President Omar al Bashir has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and genocide.

  On October 21, with data still not released and the UN - African Union Mission in Darfur now refusing to answer questions from Inner City Press about the data and other collaboration with the al Bashir government, Inner City Press asked the UN's Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food Olivier de Schutter about both the blocking of release of malnutrition data, and Sudan's blockade of food from internally displaced persons camps like that in Kalma. Video here, from Minute 32:02.

  Olivier de Schutter told Inner City Press that he will investigate the complaints if provided with sufficient prima facie evidence. Video here, from Minute 37.  This has now been done.

De Schutter in Geneva, action on Sudan not yet shown

  Beyond Ms. Amos' September 15 statement that the cessation of reporting malnutrition data is attributable to the Sudanese government, now at last a UNICEF official has spoken out more clearly, expressing

concern that the Sudanese government 'very often' bars the release of data on child malnutrition in Darfur. Nils Kastberg, UNICEF Representative in Sudan, said that the Sudanese security services have also hindered or delayed UNICEF’s access to camps in Darfur.

Kastberg told Radio Dabanga: 'Part of the problem has been when we conduct surveys to help us address issues, in collaboration with the ministry of health, very often other parts of the government such as the humanitarians affairs commission interferes and delays in the release of reports, making it difficult for us to respond timely.'

UN cooperation with the Khartoum ministries like the Ministry of Health has failed to secure publication of the reports. The UNICEF country chief said 'we are raising these issues with the government at the moment that the humanitarian affairs commission should not interfere with the release of these reports.'

Kastberg also pointed out that certain government agencies hinder the entry of UNICEF staff into the camps. 'Sometimes it is security services that hinder access or delay access, sometimes it is the humanitarian affairs office that delays the release of nutritional surveys. Sometimes it is delays in granting permissions and visas. It is different sections of different institutions which interfere in our work.'”

This has now been submitted to Special Rapporteur de Schutter by Inner City Press. Watch this site.

* * *

As UN Gambari Plans Hand Over to Bashir in Sudan, Torture Complaint Mulled at UN

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 19 -- Could the UN, or the chief of its peacekeeping mission in Darfur Ibrahim Gambari, be on the verge of violating the UN Convention Against Torture?

  Inner City Press asked the chairman of the UN Committee Against Torture Claudio Grossman this question on October 19, referring to the leaked documents showing Gambari's plan to turn over five supporters of Fur rebel Abdel Wahid Nur to the government of Omar al Bashir, accused of genocide, war crimes and, yes, torture. Video here, from Minute 23:25.

  Grossman answered that “as to the UN system... no one should be sent to places where he or she will be tortured.” Video here from Minute 30. He cited this prohibition to Article 3 of the Convention.

Gambari, hiding in plain sighting, CAT violation not shown

Inner City Press asked, but if a complaint is filed about Gambari's and the UN's pending turn over of five people to Bashir, how would Grossman's Committee Against Torture process it? Video here, from Minute 30:20.

Grossman said that while in one sense the Committee's work is limited to member states, there is creative lawyering. Not only other venues such as Working Groups and the Special Rapporteur on Torture, but also “journalism can play a role,” he said.

So one wonders why the SLA, or someone on behalf of the Kalma Five, doesn't start raising the question as an anti-torture issue, using Gambari's draft -- which contains no assurances on this -- as the basis for the complaints? Watch this site.

* * *

UN Won't Count IDPs in Darfur or Soldiers in Sudan, Gambari to Violate Convention Against Torture?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 19 -- The UN routinely fails at stopping conflict, even at stopping rape. But it continues to be counted on to at least do some counting. It issues reports, to the Security Council and to the public, about how many security patrols its mission in Darfur UNAMID conducted, or how many ceasefire violations occurred across a border.

  In Sudan, however, the UN is hitting new lows. Earlier this month covering the Security Council's trip through the country, Inner City Press exposed how UN Humanitarian Coordinator Georg Charpentier was downplaying and even covering up the destruction of villages in Jebel Marra like Soro, and the blockade of Internally Displaced Persons' camps like the one being disassembled in Kalma.

  Now back in New York, Inner City Press on October 19 asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's acting Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq to confirm or deny reports of increased aerial bombardment in Jebel Marra, and a stream of IDPs to the camps in Shangil Tobaya and Tawila.

   While from the former, the Security Council was blocked from visiting by the government, the latter has a Rwandan battalion of UNAMID peacekeepers.

  Haq responded with an old statement from Charpentier about Soro, how hard it is to know. But, Inner City Press asked, can't the UN count the number of new IDPs arriving, at least at the camps in which it has peacekeepers? Haq did not answer this simple question of fact. Video here.

  To many, it appears that the UN, or at least its UNAMID mission under Ibrahim Gambari, is trying to help cover up the Omar al Bashir regime's renewed push of ethnic cleansing in Darfur.

Gambari with UK Lyall Grant, US Susan Rice, IDP counts and CAT not shown

  Meanwhile Gambari's counterpart at the UN Mission in (South) Sudan, Haile Menkerios, was caught in a misstatement of fact, according to reporters who cover him.

   In an October 18 press conference, Menkerios told Xinhua -- reportedly one of the media organizations whose Sudanese staff was thrown off the UN Security Council plane by UNMIS in Juba -- that his Mission hasn't investigated troop build ups on the border of North and South Sudan because there were only “in the press.”

  But senior southern army officer Mat Paul told an enterprising reporter “U.N. officials were not owning up to their lack of access. 'This year, the build-up of SAF (northern army) started in June in South Kordofan and other areas and we've been raising this several times with the U.N.' said Paul, who is the SPLA's representative in the joint north-south ceasefire monitoring commission (CJMC) chaired by the United Nations. 'They...just keep quiet so there is no monitoring,' he said.”

UNMIS “lies,” according to local reporters, to cover up that it has given in to Khartoum's blockage of access to monitor troop build ups. UNAMID in Darfur simply refuses to even count incoming IDPs. Both are (mis?) run by Ban Ki-moon's Department of Peacekeeping Operations, although Gambari often freelances.

   At what point has the UN become complicit?

Footnote: UNAMID's Ibrahim Gambari's planned turn over to the al Bashir regime of five supporters of Fur rebel Abdel Wahid Nur may, it was argued Tuesday at the UN, violate the spirit and even letter of Article 3 of the Convention against Torture. Inner City Press asked the chairman of the Committee Against Torture Claudio Grossman if the obligation not to hand anyone over to a government accused of torture applied to the UN and UNAMID. Video here.

He replied that no one should make such a turn over, and that arguments can be made about the applicability of the law to the UN (and by implication Gambari). Watch this site.

* * *

In Darfur, Gambari Criticizes Nur & Inner City Press on Video, Transcription Here

By Matthew Russell Lee

DARFUR, October 8 -- Peacekeepers were sent to Darfur after reports of a brutal campaign by the government of Omar al Bashir against opponents of his regime and civilians perceived as supporting them.

Now top peacekeeper Ibrahim Gambari, as shown by documents leaked to and published by Inner City Press, is near to turning over five supporters of rebel Abdel Wahid Nur to that same Bashir regime, in exchange for a promise by Bashir to commute any death sentence his courts impose.

Several members of the UN Security Council, which ostensibly oversees Gambari's actions along with the African Union, expressed surprise to Inner City Press once they saw the leaked documents, consisting of a draft letter and “Additional Terms” from Gambari to Bashir's foreign minister Ali Karti.

On the UN plane Thursday to El Fasher from South Sudan, US Ambassador Susan Rice told Inner City Press that she intends to inquire into Gambari's offers about the Kalma Camp Five while in Darfur. This echoed a statement of intention previously issued by another Permanent Member of the Council.

After a closed door meeting with the visiting Security Council members, Gambari and two of his military officials, in uniform, came to see the Press. Gambari called Inner City Press' publication of his draft documents “reprehensible” and told Inner City Press to “be careful... lives are at stake.”  Transcription below.

  Yeah, a witness to Gambari's statements later said, the lives of the Kalma Camp Five are at risk if the UN turns them over to a strongman already indicted for genocide and war crimes. “Is this what the UN should be doing?”

  Gambari's statements to Inner City Press were caught on video and will soon be published online as such. For now, here is a transcription, prepared late Thursday night at a guest house in El Fasher outside of Gambari's UNAMID compound:

Inner City Press asked Ibrahim Gambari, “What's happen with the Kalma Camp Five that you are considering turning over to the government... or that documents indicate you are considering turning over?”

Gambari answered: “Here is the situation. We have these five sheikhs who have been accused of some very serious offenses. We have no means as UNAMID to try them... Down the line if ever there was a death sentence, the President has the prerogative of mercy. All has been discussed confidentially. I want to say how reprehensible it was that somebody leaked the confidential communication of the government of Sudan...endangering the lives of those in the camps. The recipient of such a leak I think should also think twice about what they do considering that they are endangering the lives.. We've lost 27 peacekeepers between UNAMID and UNMIS, I mean AMIS.”

Inner City Press asked about Abdel Wahid Nur saying that if the Five are turned over, it will make UNAMID complicit in genocide, and that his group would not cooperate with the UN any more.

Gambari responded, “you quote words Abdel Wahid was supposed to have said... I met Khalil Ibrahim yesterday, asked how about how someone said JEM wants Gambari to resign for Tarabat Market. [He said he] ever said that, never authorized this... I want to hear from Abdel Wahid. I've been to Paris twice, I went to Tripoli...What happened in New York I condemn it. Matthew I have known you a long time, you should be careful... You are a recipient of a leaked document... Journalism also is a responsibility. I regard you as a friend, I used to, I regard you as a friend, I am admitting that.”

Of Abdel Wahid Nur, Gambari said: “He wants all issues resolved almost before he comes.”

“Matthew, I'm very angry with you , what are we supposed to do, keep people indefinitely?”

Inner City Press said, “Several Security Council members, when they saw the leaked documents, said they were not aware that you or UNAMID were in such discussions, and some expressed worry. How much is this Mission overseen by the Security Council?”

Gambari said “Ask them. Ask the S-G. I am responsible to two masters. You have the AU and you have the UN. The unity of the international community is key to finding a solution.”

Inner City Press said, as Gambari backed out the door toward his vehicle, “Transparency you can always say is dangerous, but I think it's probably a good thing.”

“No,” Gambari said. “Believe me, lives are at stake.”

Or maybe jobs, a witness to Gambari's statements later said, adding that the lives of the Kalma Camp Five are at risk if the UN turns them over to a strongman already indicted for genocide and war crimes. Among other lives put at risk, without oversight, transparency or explanation. “Is this what the UN should be doing?” Watch this site.

Footnote: it's worth noting that even before Inner City Press obtained and published Gambari's draft letter to Sudan's Ali Karti, Gambari had already expressed anger at Inner City Press' publication of other leaked documents concerning his time as UN envoy to Myanmar.

  That time, before the UN's September 24 high level meeting on Sudan, Gambari didn't argue about lives being at risk. He claimed the documents were “old” (2009) and not newsworthy. “Just leave me alone,” he said, having in the past declined to respond to questions sentto his UN e-mail address by Inner City Press. Now, the claim that lives are put at risk. Is it just opposition to transparency?

Watch this site, follow on Twitter @InnerCityPress.

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

* * *

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

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