Diplomat Questions UN's Warlord Payments, Blackhawk Down - TFG Connection
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
UNITED NATIONS, April
28 -- The UN Security Council on Friday heard a closed-door briefing from
Ethiopian Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin about his country's continued military
presence in Somalia. Afterwards, Inner City Press asked Mr. Mesfin about reports
and letters showing that UN humanitarian aid has been hindered by the Transitional Federal
Government, which Ethiopia installed atop the country in December.
Surrounded by guards, Mr. Mesfin denied that the TFG or "our troops" had created obstacles, and noted that
TFG Prime Minister Gedi had "the day before yesterday said that humanitarian aid
interview appearing in the Times of London on April 27, Gedi is
accusing UN agencies "of corruption; of using private airstrips to ship in
contraband, weapons and insurgents; of striking cozy deals with warlords and the
ousted Islamic Courts regime and pocketing the proceeds. He said the United
Nations' World Food Program and other agencies were upset because they had lost
power after effectively governing Somalia during its 15 years of civil war and
anarchy. 'They want to operate in this country without any control,' he
declared. 'They know they can't do that any more . . . Now there's a Prime
Minister who knows them too well.'"
City Press at Friday's
noon briefing asked
Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson for a response:
Inner City Press: In
Somalia, the Prime Minister in an interview had said that the UN aid agencies
are used to running the country like it’s their own fiefdom and that they’re
basically disagreeing with Mr. [John] Holmes in terms of humanitarian access.
So I'm wondering if anyone in the UN system has some response to those
statements or what the status is of humanitarian access in Somalia.
according to what I got today, the discussions were good and they were given
access. And the tone was positive on the part of WFP.
some other Inner City Press questions,
a statement was handed to Spokesperson:
can find an answer for you. And about Somalia, as far as I know, and I see the
information I got there, there was a meeting about the Transitional Federal
Government (TFG) of Somalia. The meeting was positive. WFP was given the green
light to begin deliveries, which was done. And basically everything is working
now between WFP and TFG. According to OCHA, the UN has some 200 national and
international staff in south central Somalia whose sole aim is to assist the
people of that country, including in delivering urgently needed life-saving
assistance. So, the UN humanitarian agencies, which are non-political, do not
aspire to enjoy power in Somalia or elsewhere, as was said in an article today."
Friday, Inner City Press interviewed Idd Beddel Mohamed, the Somali TFG's Deputy
Permanent Representative to the UN, who said:
"The UN agencies used
to serve Somalia when there was no government. Now instead of adapting, they
still want to dictate terms. The UN hired warlords, paid them in dollars to
protect and deliver. The warlords bought more technicals and militias. The UN
agencies should not try to address the difference by talking to the media."
City Press asked him to confirm that the TFG has appointed as Police Chief one
of the individuals whom the U.S. was seeking during the incident memorialized in
"Blackhawk Down." Yes, he said, it is Col. Aideed (a/k/a Abdi Qaybdiid).
worm, as they say, has turned...
Beddel Mohamed at the UN
UN had earlier on Friday announced the re-appointment of Francois Lonseny Fall
for another year as the UN's envoy to Somalia, Idd Beddel Mohamed said he hadn't
been aware, and said: "Why isn't he in Mogadishu? Let him enjoy Nairobi, and
even the beaches of Mombassa." Inner City Press asked whether minorities like
the Mushinguli were included in the TFG as required by the "4.5" plan previously
alluded to by Lonseny Fall. "They have the ministry of sports!" Idd Beddel
each of Somalia's four main clans are supposed to get slightly less than 25% of
the posts, with 1/9th for other minorities, such as the ultimate underdogs, the
Mushinguli, brought to Somalia from further South in Africa, and long denied
their rights, a topic to which we will return.]
chided Inner City Press for asking Under
Secretary General John Holmes about quotes from the TFG President and deputy
defense minister, saying that
the quotes are just "internet propaganda." When Inner City Press pointed out
that the audio
source was Voice of America, Idd Beddel Mohamed replied that Voice of
America's "affiliate in Mogadishu is owned by a supporter of these insurgents."
left the UN, Ethiopian Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin pronounced that "the
backbone of the terrorists has been completely shattered" but that a different
message gets out, because they have "a wide network globally."
are you going to believe? For now, the UN and Security Council appear to
continue to cast their lot with the TFG, despite warnings. Or is the
European Commission's warning about war
crimes and complicity just
"internet propaganda"? We will continue to cover this.
UN Office: S-453A,
UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439
(and weekends): 718-716-3540
Holmes "Condemns" Reported Somali TFG Statements, While Withholding Documents
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN
UNITED NATIONS, April
24 -- The Somali Transitional Federal Government, which relies for its
legitimacy on the UN, yesterday told the UN that aid workers will have
"unimpeded access" to serve those people fleeing the TFG's shelling of
York, Inner City Press asked UN humanitarian chief John Holmes what the UN's
response has been to two sample statements, by TFG president Yusuf that civilian
neighborhoods can be shelled, and by TFG defense official Salad Ali Jeele, that
certain clans and sub-clans in Mogadishu need to be exterminated (click
Holmes responded that "the statements you've quoted, I would condemn them
from minute 35:13.
City Press asked about the letter
which it obtained and
reported on April 20
in which TFG Minister for Interior Mohamed Mohamoud
Guled wrote to the UN World Food Program that
decision that there will be no food distribution can take place anywhere in
Somalia without being inspected and approved by the government. Hence UN
agencies and any other organization that is planning to bring any relief to
Somalia should submit the documents for the goods before shipment for checkup."
letter from the Transitional Federal Government to the WFP was cc-ed to the
Somali National Refugee Commission, through which Inner City Press is told the
TFG had been saying all aid must flow. Asked about this on Tuesday, Mr. Holmes
said, "I have no information on that particular organization." That might be a
Ban and Mr. Yusuf
Mr. Holmes' briefing, WFP told Inner City Press the following:
From: [WFP Spokesperson]
To: Matthew Russell Lee
Sent: Mon, 23 Apr 2007 6:09 PM
Hi Matthew, there were talks between the
UN and TFG today. Here's a short update, from Peter Goossens, WFP Country
"The talk between the UN and a TFG
commission led by the Heath Minister were positive. The TFG will issue a
statement on the outcome. We hope that we will from now on be allowed to use any
airstrip in Somalia to bring in humanitarian assistance. We also need to see on
the ground that we are now allowed to bring that assistance urgently to those
most in need, particularly those displaced by the fighting in Mogadishu."
Mr. Holmes said essentially the same thing. However, when asked if any documents
could be provided -- the letter from UN Humanitarian Coordinator Eric Laroche,
or the above-referenced TFG statement -- Mr. Holmes said only that "I'll look
into that, if we can provide you chapter and verse." Ten hours later, no
documents had been provided. It's not "chapter and verse" -- it's basic
documents about what Mr. Holmes is calling the world's most dangerous for aid
workers. Silence doesn't help; silence is consent. Developing...
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