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Amid Sudan Blockade & Shelling of Kalma Camp, UN Vacation from Advocacy Recalls Bloodbath on the Beach in Sri Lanka

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 8 -- In Darfur, how seriously is the UN taking the government's blockade of humanitarian aid to, and now reported shelling of tens of thousands of internally displaced people in the Kalma Camp?

  The blockade began, at latest, on August 2. But the UN only disclosed it, as an afterthought, when head Peacekeeper Alain Le Roy on August 4 answered Inner City Press' questions about violence in the camp by mentioning no access by humanitarian groups “for four days.”

  The next day, the spokesman for Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Martin Nesirky, told Inner City Press he didn't know about the blockade, that the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs would know.

  So Inner City Press asked OCHA. That day, the only response was “checking with people.” And nothing the next day, except to refer a question about malnutrition in Darfur to UNICEF, which has yet to answer it, two days later.

  Amid reports on August 7 of militia members in Sudanese government vehicles firing shells at those in the Kalma Camp, Inner City Press sent questions to the spokespeople for the UNAMID mission and for Joint Special Representative Ibrahim Gambari.

This spokesperson accompanied Gambari at his last press stakeout in New York, when Gambari walked away from the microphone after Inner City Press asked about the indictment of Sudanese president Omar Al Bashir for genocide.

IDP children in Darfur, UN, aid and advocacy not shown

  But while there was no answer about genocide, business cards were exchanged, with a promise of prompt answers and even an invite to Al Fasher by Gambari.

But more than 12 hours after simple questions were sent -- confirm the shelling, does the blockade extend to Zalingei camp -- none of these UN spokespeople have made any response at all.

Rather, the UN's Radio Miraya has broadcast Sudanese authorities' denials of any restrictions on humanitarian groups, and claims that the groups haven't even asked to enter the camp(s).

This UN system response to the blockade and shelling of tens of thousands of already internally displaced people is beginning to be reminiscent of the UN's silence about and thus, some say, complicity in the “bloodbath on the beach” in Sri Lanka in May 2009. Watch this site.

* * *

As Sudan Starves Kalma camp and Jebel Marra, UN Has Stayed Quiet, OCHA is AWOL

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 6 -- In Darfur, why has the UN remained so quiet not only about Sudan blocking humanitarian aid into the Kalma camp since August 2, but into eastern Jebel Marra since February 2010?

In an August 4 response to a question from Inner City Press about restrictions and the Kalma camp, chief UN peacekeeper Alain Le Roy said that the government had blocked humanitarian groups for the four previous days.

On August 5, Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Martin Nesirky to confirm this blocking of aid. Nesirky said he would check. Since the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs is supposed to have and provide information on just these topics, Inner City Press e-mailed two OCHA spokespeople, thinking that confirmation should be on hand. But hours later, OCHA replied that it was checking with people.

Still having no answer on the morning of August 6, Inner City Press asked OCHA again, and some addition questions about the discontinuation of UN reporting on humanitarian issues in Darfur, including malnutrition. (OCHA referred this question to UNICEF, to which Inner City Press has now forwarded the questions).

At the UN noon briefing of Friday, August 6, Inner City Press asked again about Kalma camp, and Nesirky said "I will again check with OCHA."

   Where is OCHA chief John Holmes? Inner City Press asked, isn't this precisely the type of situation OCHA is supposed to advocate, and loudly, about?

After the noon briefing, Associate Spokesman Farhan Haq provided this answer, that OCHA confirms lack of access to Kalma camp since August 2, and to eastern Jebel Marra “since February 2010.” He said the OCHA is advocating “locally.”

First, this “local” advocacy, if it exists, has not worked: witness the continuing lack of access to east Jebel Marra for more than FIVE MONTHS.

Second, it is unclear why this OCHA would grow so quiet on this issue. Inner City Press asked, are there other situations OCHA is staying quiet about? Nesirky did not answer, and the OCHA spokespeople have yet to answer the questions Inner City Press put to them on August 5.

UN's Ban and Holmes (and Pascoe), speaking out on Sudan's aid blockade not shown

Nor would Nesirky confirm to Reuters the Sudan Tribune's report on the UN's “talking points” to Khartoum, nor to Inner City Press whether Khartoum has formally asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to turn over six people in Kalma camp it claims are responsible for the violence.

Has the UN come to any of the “full understanding of the facts” behind the violence in Kalma camp which the Security Council asked for a full week ago? You could have asked Le Roy on August 4, answered Nesirky, who on that day limited Inner City Press' questions.

The question remains: where is OCHA? Where is John Holmes? Where, for that matter, is Ban Ki-moon. Physically, he is in Japan. But where is he on the issue, of Sudan's intentional starvation of people in Kalma camp and eastern Jebel Marra?

And if this is addressed with a “statement attributable to the spokesperson for the Secretary General,” would Ban Ki-moon walk away from the statement, after a governmental complaint, as he did on the UN's statement about Kashmir? Watch this site.

* * *

In Darfur, Aid Groups Barred from Kalma Camp, DPKO Says,  No Comments Abyei Incursions, No US or UNSC Follow Through

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 4 -- In Darfur, while the UN is giving assurances that the violence in the Kalma camp has passed, humanitarian groups have been barred from the camp, housing eighty thousand internally displaced people, for the past four days. This emerged only upon detailed questioning of top UN peacekeeper Alain Le Roy. Video here, from Minute 47:36.

  Inner City Press asked if there had not also been murders in the Zalingi camp -- Le Roy said yes -- and about the restrictions on UN peacekeepers' movements ordered by Sudanese authorities.

 Le Roy said that while the Wali of South Darfur has issued such a declaration, requiring advance notice of any UNAMID mission movements, including on the roads, the UN is “discussing” this with Khartoum.

  One wonders why the UN has not said more about the barring of humanitarian groups from the Kalma camp. Is it a sop to the government, or reflective of a lull before new UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos takes over in September?

  Why has the US, after Friday's consultations, not asked for any Council action in the five days since? There were rumors early in the week of an Obama administration re-think of, or at least meeting on, Sudan policy. But it does not appear to have happened.

  While admitting further deterioration and tensions in Darfur, the UN is still putting South Sudan developments in a positive light, noting that the National Congress Party as well as SPLM have asked the UN to monitor the referendum.

  Le Roy said the UN does not usually monitor, but in this case is moving toward naming three Eminent Persons, whom it will support with 10 to 20 staff, to monitor.

Inner City Press asked who would choose the Eminent Persons -- might they included former South African president and Al Bashir supporter Thabo Mbeki? -- but Le Roy did not answer.

 Regarding Abyei, he described the Dinka questioning the rights of nomads to come in and vote, but said it would be up to a Commission which does not yet exist.

UN's Le Roy in Sudan, humanitarian access not shown

Le Roy's logistics colleague Susana Malcorra recently briefed the Press, and was asked by Inner City Press what the UN would do to ensure that those Southerners in the north who are registered to vote by the NCP can, in fact, vote.

Sources tell Inner City Press that Khartoum plans to register many Southerners and then make it difficult to vote, to drive turn out below 60% and invalidate the referendum. Ms. Malcorra said that the UN would be watching Southern registrants in the North. But Le Roy on Wednesday spoke only of the South. 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

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