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UN Blind to South Sudan Killings, Mute on Darfur & Kalma Camp Blockade

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 11 -- In both Darfur and South Sudan, the UN can barely keep up with events. On August 11 at noon, Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Martin Nesirky about two troubling developments in South Sudan: the killing of 23 people in Unity State, reportedly by forces of renegade colonel Galwak Gai, and South Sudan's capture of a Khartoum bound helicopter full of troops of rebel officer George Athor from Jonglei State. Video here, from Minute 14:16.

Nesirky, as to both, said “Let me find out. What was your other question?” Eight hours later, no information had been “squawked” or added to the transcript. The UN is spending $1 billion a year in South Sudan, and can't even confirm widely reported spoiling by Khartoum, nor the death of 23 people.

Kalma Camp in Darfur remains blockaded by the government. Inner City Press asked Humanitarian Coordinator John Holmes, who re-appeared for a flash appeal for Pakistan, what the UN was doing about the enforced starvation. Video here, from Minute 8:14.

UNMIS copter, blindness not shown

Holmes said that fifty to sixty thousands IDPs remain in the camp, now without food or water or fuel for water pumps. He said the UN is raising the issue to the government -- great -- and that Ibrahim Gambari visited the camp. But it has been at least nine days, and as much as 12, since the aid groups got in. Why hasn't the UN spoken out more forcefully?

Regarding Pakistan, Holmes said that while there are areas the UN does not have physical access to, it is trying to ensure aid to all places. Does it work with Islamist charities? The politics do no concern us, he said. Then why not speak out earlier and louder about Sudan's blockade of Kalma Camp?

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In Darfur, UN Has No Comment on Sudan Threats to Remove Kalma Camp, No Response

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 10 -- As Sudanese authorities blockade and threaten to forcible remove the Kalma Camp for internal displaced people in Darfur, the UN has no comment on the removal threat. Neither Secretary General Ban Ki-moon or his top humanitarian official John Holmes have spoken with Sudanese authorities.

They leave that to Ibrahim Gambari, the joint special representative of the UN and African Union, which is calling for indictments of President Omar al Bashir for genocide and war crimes to be put on hold.

Days ago, Inner City Press wrote to Gambari's spokesperson asking for information and comment on the blockage of Kalma Camp. After a delay, it emerged that at this time of crisis, Gambari's spokesperson is on leave. It was referred to the head of communications of UNAMID, who had not responded.

An officer in charge promised a response about malnutrition before publication of this article, which has not arrived. He said “several of the issues you raise fall with OCHA's Area of Responsibility. Accordingly, I'm working with them to make sure we cover everything.”

The head of OCHA, John Holmes, has yet to speak about the now week old blockade.


 Tuesday it was announced that on the following day, Holmes will launch an appeal about the floods in Pakistan. From where, a journalist asked. Spokesman Martin Nesirky didn't know. Not from Darfur, it appears. Video here, from Minute 29:10.

So what is the UN doing? There is a lot of talk about protection of civilians and “never again,” but 50,000 people are being starved by a government in an area which the UN is spending $1 billion a year on a peacekeeping mission. It is shameful. 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.

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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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