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UN's Strange Quiet on Kidnapped Darfur Contractors, Negotiating Alone?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 13 -- When asked why the UN said nothing for more than a week about the taking of three of its catering contractors in Darfur as hostages, UN deputy spokesperson Eduardo Del Buey told Inner City Press "when people are being held, we await the process of negotiation." Video here.

  What's strange here, though, is that there was no policy of not disclosing the hostage taking -- it was just another of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations' games.

  The downing of the helicopter and taking of the three individuals -- DPKO now stresses to Inner City Press they are NOT staff of the UN, but catering contractors -- would have been disclosed at the August 5 noon briefing if anyone had asked.

  Thus, it's like playing the game of Twenty Questions with the DPKO -- except that 20 opportunities to ask a question are not given. Sometimes, only one.

When Inner City Press asked Herve Ladsous' four DPKO spokespeople, as well as Del Buey, about the hostage taking on the morning on August 13, Del Buey replied to all that

Date: Tue, Aug 13, 2013 at 11:39 AM
From: Eduardo Del Buey [at]
Subject: Re: Request for confirmation that a UNAMID helicopter has gone down in Darfur, and again re Human Rights Due Diligence Policy, pls confirm receipt, thank you
To: Kieran Dwyer, Andre-Michel Essoungou, Josephine Guerrero, Farhan Haq
Cc: FUNCA <funca [at]>


I will reply using the if Asked of 05 August.


Eduardo del Buey
Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

  Moments later, the If-Asked that would have been read out, that is, disclosed on August 5 if the question had been asked arrived:

On 3 August 2013, the helicopter of a African Union/United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) contractor, tasked with delivering supplies to various UNAMID locations in South Darfur, made an emergency landing due to severe weather conditions.

Upon landing, 50 kilometers southeast of Nyala town, the crew members were detained by members of the Sudan Liberation Army - Mini Manawi (SLA/MM).

Communication is being maintained with all parties and negotiations are underway for the safe release of the crew, as well as the recovery of the helicopter.

  This was belatedly released by UNAMID in Sudan on August 13 -- eight days after it would have been released if-asked. The UN has no policy of not disclosing such information - it just will only do so if-asked, while controlling how many questions can get asked. Something is wrong.

Inner City Press, since publishing a first story on this and asking at the noon briefing, has received from the UN a request to clarify that the hostages are catering contractor. Del Buey at the August 13 noon briefing said "UN people have been taken;" both stories have been updated to specify "catering contractors." Does a separate standard, of disclosure or anything else, apply to them?

Also, apparently "if-asked" (and it was, by Inner City Press), this update has arrived:

"in terms of an update, we have the following information: The catering company has been in negotiations with SLA-Minni Minawi over the release of the helicopter and crew, with UNAMID also calling on Minni Minawi to release the occupants unharmed."

So the catering company is left to negotiate for itself? Watch this site.


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