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As Ethiopia Urges Removal of UN Sanctions on Eritrea Guterres Takes Credit For CERF and Bans Press

By Matthew Russell Lee, Video

UNITED NATIONS, July 12 – Even with Ethiopia now calling for the removal of UN sanctions on Eritrea, the idea was removed from the UN Security Council's 10 July 2018 Press Statement, below. On July 11, the United Arab Emirates, like the UN's Antonio Guterres, was bragging: "Several diplomats have praised the efforts of the UAE government to bring about security and stability across the world such as in Ethiopia and Eritrea. They applauded the role played by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces." Other than Ethiopia's foreign minister, who are these "several diplomats" praising the UAE? Do they include (ex) diplomat, and former UN envoy, Bernardino Leon who negotiated a job at the UAE Diplomatic Academy while still ostensibly working for the UN on Libya? Now on July 12, hours before his belated press conference arranged to be without press, Guterres rather than OCHA head Lowcock bragged about and took credit for public money directed to Ethiopia: "The UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) released today US$15 million to urgently scale up humanitarian assistance to people affected by escalating inter-communal violence in Ethiopia. Historical tensions between communities in southern Ethiopia escalated in April 2018 and led to large-scale displacements, damage of properties and loss of life.  Close to one million men, women and children are currently being sheltered with already food insecure relatives or residing in cramped public buildings without adequate food and water and substandard sanitation and hygiene facilities. “Under the leadership of Dr. Abiy Ahmed, new measures to bring unity and reconciliation have spurred great enthusiasm within the country and high international praise,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres. “However, the impact of inter-communal tensions presents a challenge for the new leadership. Nearly one million people are displaced and require urgent help, especially during this rainy season. It is critical to act immediately and that is why CERF is releasing $15 million to enable urgent aid." In the past, such announcements were done by OCHA. But Guterres needs a win, and so wants "better" press coverage that he has allowed the roughing up, and now has banned, the Press. Fox News story here, GAP blogs I and II. It is easy to impose sanctions, at least on  country like Eritrea, but very hard to take them off even when the original reasons, support for Al Shabaab in Somalia, is gone. Cote d'Ivoire on July 10 carried the water of Djibouti; others including the penholder the UK have their own reasons. The about-face of Ethiopia - which hasn't changed its UN Ambassador despite the changes in Addis Ababa - didn't move the needle. Meanwhile Inner City Press, which exposed the use of the UN's Panel of Experts to call for regime change, remains banned from even entering the UN.
Fox News story here ("UN roughs up, ejects, bans reporter from headquarters: Caught on tape"); petition to Guterres here; GAP blogs I and II (“Harassment of US Journalist Intensifies at the UN”). The UN under Antonio "Winds of Change" Guterres is corrupt. And it is hard to know the UK's reasons, not only in light of the telling chaos of Boris Johnson's resignation, but due to secrecy. The UK denied Inner City Press' request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 for documents, and banned it from its Mission's "background briefing," ostensibly finding tape recorder holders for Japanese media which write more about US rappers than the UN to be more "international media" that Inner City Press. The P2 are a joke. Back on 14 November 2017 before the Security Council voted again on Somalia and Eritrea sanctions, Inner City Press asked the penholder on the resolution, the UK's then-Ambassador Matthew Rycroft, if there is any evidence of Eritrea supporting Al Shabaab and if not, why not at least separate the two sanctions regimes. Rycroft acknowledged there is no evidence, but said discussions on separating the two hadn't been successful. Video here. Fromthe UK transcript: Inner City Press: On the Eritrea sanctions, is there any evidence that Eritrea has been supporting Al Shabab? And if there’s not, why aren’t there two separate sanctions regimes? Does the UK favour that? Amb Rycroft: "We did explore that actually with our Council colleagues and there wasn’t the appetite on the Security Council to do that. I think there has been progress on the Al Shabab issue. There’s no evidence at the moment that the Eritrean authorities have been supporting Al Shabab, and we very much welcome that. But as you know, there are other aspects to why there is a sanctions regime on Eritrea, and what we urge the authorities there to do is to engage with the monitoring group, to engage with the chair of the sanctions committee, so that those people can come back with that positive evidence which they say is there, and that would help change the dynamic in the Security Council." Later on the morning of November 14, after four abstentions from the combined sanctions, Inner City Press was informed by a well-placed wag that the UK was not opposed to splitting the two: "the UK would rather get 15-0 votes for Somalia then all these abstentions because of the Eritrea issue." We hope to have more on this. Back in May 2017, Rycroft said "six months ago, the Security Council was quite divided on whether there should be sanctions or not on Eritrea. Before the next decision on the sanctions regime on Eritrea, coming up in November, we are going to do a review today of whether there should be a sanctions regime. We, as penholder on that issue, are seeking to find a way to unite the Security Council so that there can be some specific measures in a roadmap that the authorities of Eritrea would need to meet in order to lift the sanctions regime. Our national position is that the conditions are not yet right to lift the sanctions. But that if Eritrea did some of the things which we will set out today then we would look at it on the basis of the evidence."

 When the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the State of Eritrea Sheila Keetharuth held a press conference at the UN on October 28, Inner City Press went to ask her if she considered the impact of sanctions on Eritrea. Video here.  She answered only in terms of arms embargo, they said she simply chose not to look at the issue.

On November 10, when Somalia Eritrea sanctions were voted on, five countries abstained: Angola, China, Egypt, Russia and Venezuela. Eritrea's charge d'affaires made a statement, which we've published on Scribd, here.

Before the vote, Inner City Press asked UK Ambassador Matthew Rycroft a question; he spoke about the Somalia Eritrea sanctions helping to limit support to Al Shabaab. Video here. But the current lack of evidence of Eritrean support to Al Shabaab has been repeatedly cited. And there are new reports calling the SEMG and its former officials into question, here. We'll have more on this.

   By contrast to Keetharuth, the Rapporteur on the Democratic People Republic of Korea Tomas Ojea Quintana answered detailed questions from Inner City Press about sanctions including unilateral sanctions on coal sales, for example. Is there no consistency between UN Special Rapporteurs? Video here.

There were only three journalists asking questions at the October 28 press conference - and yet Inner City Press was in 2016 ousted and evicted, and it is still under Antonio Guterres restricted to a minder. Petition here.


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