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On Darfur, UN Can't Confirm Who Controls Jebel Marra, Can't Protect Itself

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 9 -- Ever since the Sudanese government and JEM rebels announced a cease fire and the UN quickly praised it, there have been reports of an upsurging in fighting in Darfur's Jebel Marra between the government and another rebel group, the SLA. Inner City Press repeatedly asked the UN to confirm the death tolls reported by the SLA, to no avail.

  On March 8, the government announced it had full control of Jebel Marra. At the UN later that day, after some happy talk about efforts for gender equality through UN Police, Inner City Press sought to ask about Darfur. But there was no noon briefing that day. Inner City Press sought answers elsewhere.

  On March 9, Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Martin Nesirky about the competing critiques of the SLA and government: both in their way say the UN is doing nothing. The government mocks the UN Mission UNAMID's over 60 troops, who let the SLA take from them seven four by fours, more than 50 automatic weapons and communications equipment, without a fight.

 The SLA's Abdel-Wahid Al-Nur said of UNAMID, "They are unable to protect civilians nor are they writing reports to document what happened so what exactly are they doing?"

  Factually, Inner City Press asked Nesirky if the UN could confirm or deny that the government retook control of Jebel Marra. "I don't have anything on that," Nesirky said. "I need to find out." Video here, from Minute 1:09:36

  Inner City Press asked for a UN response to the government's claim that it told UNAMID to take a different route to Jebel Marra. "I don't know the answer to that," Nesirky said, not even offering to find out. Video here, from Minute 1:09:28.

UNAMID in El Fasher "Super-camp" - Lockheed and protection of civilians not shown

  What Nesirky did have was a read out statement about the UN's surrender on March 5. It was 63 UNAMID personnel, Nesirky corrected, not 61. Fifty six were in the "protection force." If they can't or won't protect themselves, how could they protect civilians?

  The UN appears to be in a see no evil, hear no evil mode about Darfur, and Sudan more generally. This was supposed to be one of the UN's main commitments. What happened? Watch this site.

* * *

UN Confirms Fighting in Darfur, Says JEM Not Exclusive, Deby Says UN Spies?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 5 -- After days of the UN saying it had no access to Jebal Marra in Darfur, and could not confirm the fighting there, late Friday top UN peacekeeper Alain Le Roy told Inner City Press that yes, we confirm confirm fighting between the SLA Abdul Wahid and the government.

Inner City Press asked for the response of the UN, which praised the deal between Khartoum and JEM, to JEM's later statement that it would renounce the deal if similar offers were made to other Darfur rebel groups. Video here, from Minute 3:19. Le Roy sputtered that JEM "has not repudiated the framework agreement."

Le Roy claimed that the Security Council was clear that "no one will have exclusivity of signing anything with the Sudanese authority." But who from the UN spoke with JEM's Khalil Ibrahim?

UN's Le Roy at stakeout, talk with JEM and oversight of Deby not shown

Inner City Press also asked Le Roy about his agreement with Chad's Idriss Deby, that the UN mission can remain only two more months and then must start leaving. How would this be possible, in the rainy season which begins in May? It will be difficult, Le Roy said. Video here, from Minute 11:40.

  Also on Chad, Inner City Press asked about Deby's anger at those who say he did not want any observers to his upcoming election. Le Roy quickly responded that elections observations were not in MINURCAT's mandate. Even in the most egregious cases?

So it's like the UN's UNAMA in Afghanistan, snarked one cynic.

  A Sudanese Mission source later told Inner City Press that the backdrop to Chad's President Deby ordering the UN to start leaving was his accusation that the MINURCAT mission was "spying." This was said with a certain glee.

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 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.

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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

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