Inner City Press

Inner City Press -- Investigative Reporting From the Inner City to Wall Street to the United Nations

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

  Search Search WWW (censored?)

In Other Media-eg Nigeria, Zim, Georgia, Nepal, Somalia, Azerbaijan, Gambia Click here to contact us     .


Home -

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


Follow us on TWITTER

Subscribe to RSS feed

Video (new)

Reuters AlertNet 8/17/07

Reuters AlertNet 7/14/07

Support this work by buying this book

Click on cover for secure site orders

also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"




Bank Beat

Freedom of Information

How to Contact Us

On Darfur, Split US Policy Matched By Biden Focused Die-In, Whither Obama and Rice?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 17 -- Two weeks into the Sudanese government's blockade of the Kalma Camp in South Darfur, in front of the UN Security Council on Tuesday morning Inner City Press asked diplomat after diplomat if they had asked for a meeting on the subject.

  The UK, whose Permanent Representative had just returned to New York, said no but they would support such a request. Non permanent members of the Council, typically, hadn't heard anything.

From the U.S., which had in early August gotten a meeting about violence and three deaths in Kalma Camp, came two different stories: that they were requesting a meeting this week, and that they were not.

  US Envoy to Sudan Scott Gration, Inner City Press was told, is heading to the region. Meanwhile, the blogosphere is full of report Gration will become US Ambassador to Kenya, and may or may not lose his Sudan portfolio.

Don't focus on individuals, Inner City Press was told when asking about the supposed split between Gration, who prioritizes the North - South conflict, and Susan Rice, who supposedly doesn't. But this split, in which Ms. Rice herself may have played a role, has been fastened on by the US “Darfur is Genocide” activist community.

At a Die In held in New York's Union Square later on Tuesday, participants were told to program their cell phones to die between 6:30 and 6:45, holding tombstones emblazoned with slogans about Darfur. A sign said, “Darfur is Rwanda in slow motion.” But what was Ms. Rice's record on Rwanda?

Tellingly, the organizers asked participants to call 1-800-Genocide and “Ask Joe Biden to tell Obama to stop genocide in Darfur!” Inner City Press asked several participants, Why Biden and not Obama directly? If as they said Obama will decide between Gration's and Rice's strategies this week?

Darfur, this month, Gration and Obama action not shown

Obama is busy, one answered. We have more chance by targeting Joe Biden. A cynic wondered if perhaps for predominantly white college students to tell an African American presidents, or Ambassador, what to do about Africa might be what they were avoiding.

Why not target the US Mission to the UN? This is about the White House, was the answer. The US Mission just moved from its temporary home on 45th and Lexington to its new building on First Avenue. In the first days, a plumbing problem led Mission staffers to flush toilets with bottled water.

Will the Darfur issue be the subject of the first protest of the US Mission in its new home? Watch this site.

Footnote: the Die It, slow starting, was ultimately moving. After participants read short Darfurian stories for a digital video camera and social media, they lay on the pavement of Union Square for 15 minutes.

  A seemingly bemused passerby, a sort of B.D. from Doonesbury, slowly took off his shoes, used one as a pillow and lay down. An older woman noted that the crowd must be reached out to, Mia Farrow style. Even in Union Square, attention was caught. One die-inner asked, are you listening, Joe Biden? But more importnatly, are you listening Obama? We'll see.

* * *

In Darfur, UN Is Forced To Correct Its Fast Thanks to Sudan, Kalma Camp Problems, Expulsions and UN Silence Persist

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 16 -- The UN in Sudan is too slow to complain and too fast to celebrate. On August 16, after refusing to confirm to Inner City Press at the noon briefing that UN officials in West Darfur are being expelled, the UN Spokesperson's Office put out an unequivocal statement that “the Secretary-General appreciates the restoration today of humanitarian access to Kalma Camp.”

Inner City Press' sources in South Darfur told it that access had not, in fact, been restored. Even the UN had to acknowledge it, putting out a correction at 3:25 pm that “the Secretary-General appreciates the restoration today of some humanitarian access to Kalma Camp.”

Nearly immediately, Inner City Press wrote to the two top officials working in the Spokesperson's Office on Monday, asking

In light of the revision of today's statement on Darfur to include “some” in “restoration of some humanitarian access,” please describe as specifically as possible what types of humanitarian access have NOT yet been restored. On deadline. Thanks.”

Despite the statement “on deadline,” and the UN's own mistake, three hours later no response was provided. A report from Sudan quoted an OCHA spokesperson whose contact information is not online that “it was mostly an assessment mission.”

Another UN spokesman in Sudan confirmed on Monday what the UN in New York would not, that "The heads of the UNHCR (U.N. refugee agency) and FAO (Food and Agriculture) agencies in West Darfur as well as the head of UNHCR agency in Zalengei have been asked to leave.”

UN's Ban and Al Bashir, thanks for access to Kalma: correction not shown

At Monday's noon briefing in New York, according to the UN's own transcript:

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask a couple of questions about Sudan. One is: can you confirm the reports that in West Darfur, the head of FAO [Food and Agriculture Organization], two people from UNHCR [United Nations refugee agency] and two Red Cross people have been expelled by the Government? Particularly as to the UN officials, is that something you can confirm? And also as to the two peacekeepers, a Jordanian newspaper has said that those who had taken the peacekeepers have made demands about some reforms for UNAMID to make. I wonder if the UN has any idea whether these are Government-affiliated kidnappers. And finally, whatever happened on the pilot investigation, the Russian pilot that was taken in Darfur? Did they ever find out who was behind that? Was it the Government-affiliated Janjaweed or other rebels?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson: Well, first of all, on the question of the various abductions: on the Russian pilot issue, I don’t have anything further to say. On the issue of the two people that were abducted over the weekend from UNAMID, we did put a press release from UNAMID over the weekend mentioning that abduction, but we do not have any further comment or any details at this time. We are, of course, working for their safe release and wouldn’t have any comment to make on that.

As for the situation at Kalma camp of the various agencies, we have seen the preliminary reports of these developments, and we are awaiting further clarification from the Government of Sudan.

Inner City Press: It seems like a whole other region; these expulsions are the head of FAO for all of West Darfur, and El Geneina and in Zalingei. I’m not trying to be… I’m just saying that it seems like the standoff between UNAMID and local officials in Darfur seems to be spreading from South Darfur to West Darfur. I just wonder what the plan to deal with this is.

Acting Deputy Spokesperson: On the question of West Darfur, our understanding is that the statements were related to security matters in West Darfur State. However, expulsion orders have not been officially issued. Discussions are ongoing between the UN and the Government in Khartoum. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has requested that it will handle these developments on its own behalf, which the UN will respect...

Inner City Press: I’m sorry, there’s just one more on this. There’s a story about these West Darfur expulsions, says that the head of FAO for West Darfur was asked to leave because he had forwarded a petition against hunger, “”, and authorities said he did not obtain approval for it. So I’m wondering, you said it was a security situation, but is there any indication… that’s why I’m saying it seems like the Government is cracking down. Are UN officials permitted to forward things like this “” petition to stop hunger without governmental authority, or do they seek approval?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson: Well, I’m not really aware that this is a central issue. Like I said, discussions are ongoing between the UN and the Government in Khartoum, and we’ll see what the results of that are.

But at the same time, Abdallah al-Fadil, head of UNAMID in West Darfur, was quoted that "The heads of the UNHCR and FAO agencies in West Darfur as well as the head of UNHCR agency in Zalengei have been asked to leave.” So why did the UN in New York says that “expulsion orders have not been officially issued” and that all humanitarian access to the Kalma Camp had been restored?

The UN in Sudan is too slow to complain and too fast to celebrate. And this puts civilians at risk. Watch this site.

 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

Feedback: Editorial [at]

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

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540

  Search  Search WWW (censored?)

Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

            Copyright 2006-2010 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at] -