Inner City Press

Inner City Press -- Investigative Reporting From the Inner City to Wall Street to the United Nations

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis

  Search Search WWW (censored?)

In Other Media-eg Nigeria, Zim, Georgia, Nepal, Somalia, Azerbaijan, Gambia Click here to contact us     .


Home -

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis


Follow us on TWITTER

Subscribe to RSS feed

Video (new)

Reuters AlertNet 8/17/07

Reuters AlertNet 7/14/07

Support this work by buying this book

Click on cover for secure site orders

also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"




Bank Beat

Freedom of Information

How to Contact Us

IOM Returns Ethiopian Refugees Blocked by Saudis in Yemen, Calls It Voluntary

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 17 -- When hundreds of refugees from Ethiopia tried to get to Saudi Arabia through Yemen and got stuck in the desert, the International Organization for Migration got involved in returning them to Ethiopia.

On December 16, Inner City Press asked two IOM officials to justify their involvement in what to some seems refoulement, the return of refugees to the very situation they were fleeing. IOM's Permanent Observer at the UN Michelle Klein Solomon replied that IOM only gets involved in “voluntary” repatriation.

But obviously these Ethiopians wanted to get out of their country, which is accused of human rights violations, and only consented to repatriation due to Saudi Arabia blocking their entry, and Yemen providing no sanctuary at all. How can this be called voluntary?

IOM's Washington based spokesperson Niurka Pineiro acknowledged that sometimes “voluntary” means the least bad of two alternatives, or “the only choice.”

UN's Ban and IOM's Permanent Observer, returns from Yemen not shown

Pressed, the IOM representatives claimed that the Organization advocates for human rights, only behind the scenes, never naming or shaming countries. But what leverage does it have?

In fact, other humanitarians expressed to Inner City Press skepticism about IOM, saying that in search of funding the Organization gets involved in work that has little to do with its mandate, and tries to please its main funders. While this may also be true of the UN and its agencies, they at least are subject to more scrutiny. The IOM is a black hole that we intend to explore more. Watch this site.

* * *

On Somalia, UN Looks Away from Mercenaries & Funder, Withholds MOU

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 13 -- As not only Puntland but the Transitional Federal Government in Mogadishu move to use mercenaries, the UN is in denial even as its Security Council's sanctions regime is being violated.

On December 6 Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Martin Nesirky:

Inner City Press: there is a former US official, Pierre Prosper, who has said that Puntland, the portion of Somalia, has hired a private military contractor, Saracen, to do anti-piracy work — that it’s being all funded by a Muslim nation that he wouldn’t name. So what I wonder is whether, given Mr. [Augustine] Mahiga or anyone in the UN, given both the prohibitions against mercenaries and also the 1992 sanctions on Somalia, what does the UN say to Puntland pretty openly, or at least as acknowledged by a former US official, hiring a mercenary firm to patrol the coast of Somalia, and what’s the UN going to do in light of this report?

Spokesperson Nesirky: Well, thanks for the question, Matthew, and let’s see what we can find out. I don’t have anything at the moment.

A full week later, the UN Spokesperson's Office has not provided any information. But on December 10, Inner City Press asked the UN's Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia Mark Bowden about mercenaries. Despite reports that the TFG is moving forward, Bowden said that there's been a step back. Video here, from Minute 13:55.

Inner City Press asked if the UN knows the identify of the country funding the mercenaries. Bowden did not answer, but said that the funder should contact the UN Somalia Monitoring Group, or they might be in violation of the sanctions. But the country has indicated it will not identify itself, ostensibly to not suffer attacks. Is there a loophole in the sanctions regime for this?

UN's Bowden on Dec. 10, mercenaries and MOU not shown

  On the UN World Food Program's confidential Memorandum of Understanding with the OIC, Inner City Press asked what it says about paying to deliver service.

  Ms. Kiki Gbeho, Head of the Somalia Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs replied that she “hopes” it has prohibitions, adding that the UN “in principle does not pay to deliver... perhaps it has happened, but it is the policy not to pay.”

But neither she nor Bowden have seen the WFP agreement. What does it mean, then, to be a UN Humanitarian “Coordinator” or OCHA Head of Country office? What is WFP doing? 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

Feedback: Editorial [at]

UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540

  Search  Search WWW (censored?)

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

            Copyright 2006-08 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at] -