Split US Policy Matched By Biden Focused Die-In, Whither
Obama and Rice?
August 17 -- Two weeks into the Sudanese
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
Darfur, this month, Gration and Obama action not shown
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.
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
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.
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.
* * *
Is Forced To Correct Its Fast Thanks to Sudan, Kalma Camp Problems,
Expulsions and UN Silence Persist
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.”
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.”
City Press wrote to the two top officials working
in the Spokesperson's Office on Monday, asking
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.”
“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.”
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
in New York, according to the UN's own transcript:
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?
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.
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.
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.
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...
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, “1billionhungry.org”, 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
“1billionhungry.org” petition to stop hunger without governmental
authority, or do they seek approval?
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
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?
UN in Sudan is
too slow to complain and too fast to celebrate. And this puts
civilians at risk. Watch this site.