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At UN on Darfur, 2 Views of Gambari, Silence on S. Kordofan & JEM

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 22, updated -- With Darfur the topic in the UN Security Council on Friday morning, Inner City Press asked Council diplomats about Ibrahim Gambari's new double job, replacing Djibril Bassole as Darfur mediator while keeping his UNAMID job.

  “It's only for three months,” UK Permanent Representative Mark Lyall Grant told Inner City Press. “There are still some issues to work out with [Djibril] Bassole, who wanted to stay involved. And if the state of emergency is not lifted, there is not Darfur Peace Process.”

  South Africa's Permanent Representative Baso Sangqu also told Inner City Press that the state of emergency should be lifted, but was critical of setting conditions before the Darfur Peace Process could begin. Let it begin, he said, on the ground in Darfur.

Some of the rebel leaders who don't live in Darfur, it was implied, might be isolated by such a process.

  Lyall Grant also said that Gambari's “contract expires at the end of the year.” Inner City Press went to the UN's noon briefing and asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky to confirm this, and that Gambari is the new joint mediator on Darfur.

 Nesirky said he couldn't confirm or comment on either, that he would look into it. (He also said the UN cannot confirm events in Southern Kordofan, including if any of its peacekeepers have in fact left the war torn area -- while activists are by contrast calling for limited intervention, click here for that.)

Later when Gambari emerged from the Council, after a “bilateral” meeting with Brazil's Permanent Representative Viotti, he graciously agreed to answer questions at the stakeout. Inner City Press asked about continued aerial bombing by the government in Darfur.

 Gambari called it unacceptable but said that in Darfur from January to May 2011 there were 400 deaths due to armed conflict and that “in South Sudan there were four times that many.”

He noted that several Darfur rebels leaders are not in Sudan, specifying that Abdel Wahid al Nur, once in Paris, is now in Kampala. And what about Khalil Ibrahim in Tripoli?

Gambari on July 21 being "interviewed" by UN: Kordofan answers not shown

Inner City Press asked Gambari if he is “the new Bassole.” He laughed and said that because Bassole had been named foreign minister of Burkina Faso -- this happened after a mutiny against president Blaise Campoure -- Bassole could not “practically” remain as Darfur mediator, due to “accountability.”

Gambari said he is the mediator “ad interim.” He declined to comment on the arrest of SPLM leaders in Nyala in South Darfur or on whether the JEM rebels are fighting with SPLM-North in Southern Kordofan. So how many death, especially of civilians, due to armed conflict have there been in Southern Kordofan? We'll have more on this.

From the UN's transcript of its July 22, 2011 noon briefing:

Inner City Press: just now in front of the Security Council during the Darfur briefing, it was said that Mr. Gambari is going to be now taking over from Mr. Bassolé for three months. And one Permanent Representative said that’s because his contract expires at the end of the year. What’s the UN’s understanding of whether he is going to be wearing those two hats and for how long, and is it true that his contract, I guess UN or UN-AU contract, expires at the end of the year?

Spokesperson Nesirky: I have to look into that, I don’t know.

Inner City Press: But is he the new mediator, Doha process mediator?

Spokesperson Nesirky : The answer I just gave you applies to everything you said.

  And five hours later there was still no information from the UN Office of the Spokesperson, even after what Gambari himself said...

* * *

Sudan Slaughter of 150 Nubans Frozen in UN Edit Room, Rudderless Peacekeeping

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 21 -- While the UN holds a report that that one of its staff members in Sudan saw the piled corpses of 150 people of Nubian descent in South Kordofan, it insists that because the report is a “leaked draft,” it cannot or will not take action on its yet.

  On July 21, the day after Inner City Press put the full report online, it asked UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky about this paragraph:

28. An UNMIS staff member who was detained by SAF at their military facility in Umbattah Locality reported during his detention, that he saw over an estimated 150 dead bodies of persons of Nuban descent scattered on the grounds of the military compound. Some of the bodies appeared to have bullet wounds and he reported a large quantity of blood on the ground. He reported a SAF soldier told them that they had all been shot dead.

  But Nesirky cut Inner City Press off in the middle of the paragraph, to insist this is only a draft. From the UN's July 21 transcript:

Inner City Press: I am still looking at this report that was put out by the human rights component of UNMIS [United Nations Mission in Sudan]. One of the many things said in it is that --

Spokesperson Nesirky: Let’s just roll back a bit, and I am sorry to interrupt you, but it is not a report that has been put out by UNMIS, it is an as yet un-finalized report that was leaked. So let’s get the context correct.

Inner City Press: Let’s say this: the leaked report says that an UNMIS staff member witnessed 150 dead bodies of Nuban descent in a military facility in Sudan. So, my question is, even though it’s a leaked report, it seems to be such a serious allegation that it seems strange that the UN would say, we’re going to wait two weeks to finalize it. What is being done, since that 150 dead bodies was witnessed by a UN staff member? What actions have been taken, even while the actual document itself is being finalized?

Spokesperson Nesirky: I am sure that the relevant people, and you’ve heard Ivan Simonovic speaking on this topic, will have been seeking to follow up on it. And as you heard Mr. Simonovic say, there are efforts to gain access, so that there can be the kind of follow-up that you are talking about. And if Mr. Simonovic has any further follow-up on that, then obviously I’d let you know.

Question: And just one more on peacekeeping. Today at the stakeout, Mr. Le Roy said that he’s leaving on 10 August. So that seems to be coming up pretty quickly. Without, I guess, getting into the names, is there are going to be a new Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations on 10 August, or when is the process thought to come to a conclusion? Is there a shortlist, et cetera?

Spokesperson Nesirky: I would doubt that there would be a new Under-Secretary-General in place to take over the day after Mr. Le Roy leaves office. Obviously there are, there is an established procedure for having an officer-in-charge until a new Under-Secretary-General is appointed. And when we get to that stage, an announcement will be made.

  At the Security Council stakeout on July 21, Le Roy told Inner City Press that the report would not be finalized by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations until two weeks after Mr. Simonovic spoke to the press last week. That would be the day after Le Roy's final press conference, and just before he leaves with no successor in place.

Ban, Nesirky, Nambiar & Orr, action on UN inaction not shown

  Meanwhile, as to the future in Southern Kordofan, Inner City Press asked Nesirky:

Inner City Press: there has been this quote by the Foreign Minister of Sudan, Ali Karti, that there is an openness on the part of Khartoum to, quote, “foreign troops” in Southern Kordofan. Has the UN been informed of that? What does the UN think of that statement?

Spokesperson: We are certainly aware of the statement, and we’re following up with the Sudanese authorities to try to understand in greater detail what that means.

  But who in the UN is following up with what Sudanese authorities? Watch this site.

* * *

Sudan Killing in Kordofan, & UN Inaction, Detailed in UN Report, Online

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 20 -- Amid Sudan's slaughter in Southern Kordofan despite UN peacekeepers being there, inaction by the Egyptian contingent of the UN Mission in Sudan has been the subject of increasing shock and disgust.

 On July 20 after trying to ask UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon about it when he took questions about climate change at the Security Council stakeout, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky about the "leaked" report, particular these sections in paragraphs 42 and 29:

42. On 8 June, UNMIS Human Rights witnessed the movement of four armed men (two armed civilians and two Central Reserve Police) carrying weapons in and out of the UNMIS Protective Perimeter without any intervention from the UNMIS peacekeepers guarding the premises. The armed men conducted identity checks on the IDPs. Eyewitnesses interviewed reported that the armed men abducted three IDPs from the vicinity of the UNMIS Protective Perimeter on suspicion that they were supporters of the SPLM.

29. On 8 June, an UNMIS independent contractor (IC) was pulled out of a vehicle by SAF in front of the UNMIS Kadugli Sector IV Compound in the presence of several witnesses, while UN peacekeepers could not intervene. He was taken around the corner of the compound and gunshots were heard. Later he was discovered dead by UNMIS personnel and IDPs. Several sources confirmed that the victim was an active SPLM member.

  Earlier this month a Dutch court said that immunity was no defense to the liability of peacekeepers for deaths in Srebrenica. These descriptions - in the UN's own report -- non “intervention” by UN peacekeepers echo that. Inner City Press is putting the report online, here.

  UN spokesman Nesirky said in response that the above-quoted report “ has not yet been finalized.

  Inner City Press asked if it would be edited by the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations:

Inner City Press: I’m looking at this, the UNMIS human rights report about Southern Kordofan and it’s beyond what is being sort of reported publicly, it has a paragraph very specifically saying on 8 June UNMIS human rights witnessed armed people coming in and out of the UNMIS protection perimeter without any intervention from the UN peacekeepers guarding the premises. The allegation is that the Egyptian peacekeepers of that unit were either sided with the Government or chose to not act. And what I am wondering is, if, since this is the UN’s own report, what’s the next step? Is the Secretary-General going to order some kind of an inquiry?

Spokesperson Nesirky: Well, first of all, as you well know, the report has not yet been finalized, and Mr. Šimonovic' made that quite clear when he spoke to you here the other day. That’s the first point. The second is that we’re extremely concerned about the allegations that are out there, including those that have been brought to light in the report, which is not yet finalized. So, I think we need to ensure that that report goes through the right procedure before more details are given on that. But suffice it to say that many people within the UN community, from the Secretary-General down, are extremely concerned about the alleged incidents that there have been and the reports that we are hearing.

Inner City Press: The one thing I wanted to know is, it seems from the way Mr. Simonovic said it, that this joint reporting to the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights and to DPKO, so, since the allegation, at least the one that I just read out, is against DPKO, what’s their role in editing the finalizing report?

Spokesperson: Well, I think let’s be really clear, there is nothing unusual in that arrangement. Wherever there is a mandate within a peacekeeping mission mandate to look at human rights, there should be a human rights component — in other words, people who deal with that. And of course, as Mr. Šimonovic' explained, there is a dual reporting role. A report of that nature of course will need to be seen by the principals concerned in the Office and in the Department. And that’s normal procedure.

Inner City Press: When you’re saying it’s finalized, it describes things that happened on a particular day. Is there some idea that this will be changed in a final report?

Spokesperson: I do not know what the final version will look like. But as you all know, this, the document that has been circulated, or rather leaked, is not the final version. And it is still in the process of being finalized. But as I have said, it is already clear that there are very serious allegations out there, not just in the report that’s being talked about and which Mr. Šimonovic' spoke about at some length the other day, but more generally. And those reports are alarming and we’re extremely worried about them, the Secretary-General included.

  Some wonder why, if Ban Ki-moon is so extremely worried about this, he did not mention or take any questions on it on July 20 outside the Security Council. The numbers of executed are high. Here is another paragraph:

28. An UNMIS staff member who was detained by SAF at their military facility in Umbattah Locality reported during his detention, that he saw over an estimated 150 dead bodies of persons of Nuban descent scattered on the grounds of the military compound. Some of the bodies appeared to have bullet wounds and he reported a large quantity of blood on the ground. He reported a SAF soldier told them that they had all been shot dead.

  In the face of this UN reporting, why stand on the principle that the report “is not finalized?” We will pursue this. Watch this site.

Click for July 7, 11 re Sudan, Libya, Syria, flotilla

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

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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Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

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