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As Italy Navy to Libya, ICP Asked Rocca of Red Cross for View of Salame, Guterres, Silence

By Matthew Russell Lee, New Platform

UNITED NATIONS, August 19 – Italy has been a member of the UN Security Council for seven months and nineteen days during which it has, for example, insisted that during the Council's visit to Cameroon the Anglophone crisis did not come up (while its President Mattarella met 35-year president Paul Biya), and has declined Inner City Press' request for comment on the UN World Intellectual Property Organization's work on a cyanide patent for North Korea, the sanctions committee on which it chairs. In July Matteo Renzi came out, if only briefly, moving to the right on migration, before taking excerpts of his book off-line. On August 17, when the president of the Italian Red Cross Francesco Rocca was listed on the schedule of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, Inner City Press asked Rocca's spokesman for " for a written read-out after Francesco Rocca's meeting with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, and if the issue of the Italian Navy's cooperation with the Libyan Coast Guard came up. (Inner City Press has repeatedly asked about new UN envoy on Libya Salame's comments on such cooperation).  Separately, what does the Italian Red Cross think of the Italian Navy's work off Libya, and on the Italian government's funding to / to stop migration from Libya?" There was no response that day; in back and forth since, then, Inner City Press has asked about "the read-out Mr Rocca gave, see here and below.  Where did Mr Rocca give this read-out? Did the position of the Italian government, and the statements of UNSG's envoy Salame, come up at the meeting?" If Rocca raised Libya's Navy to Guterres, why not Italy's? How not Salame? We'll have more on this. On August 8, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: I wanted to ask first about Libya and the new envoy, Mr. Ghassan Salamé.  He's been quoted in Italy as praising Italy's naval mission off Libya.  And I wanted to know, since I've asked you before, here's a lot of the controversy in refugee circles, refugee rights circles, about this mission, which is basically to back up the Libyan Coast Guard in driving ships back to land.  Is this really the Secretary-General's position?  Spokesman:  We'll check his quotes, because I haven't seen them.  So, before I comment on what he said, I'll check the quotes. But 72 hours later, there was no answer,despite a second request on August 9. And so Inner City Press asked yet again on August 11, and after the briefing Dujarric's office sent this: "In reference to your question on Libya at the noon briefing, this is what Mr. Salame said: 'It would be unrealistic to ignore the seriousness of the smuggling of migrants and the UN intends to address this issue through its agencies and through a UN international conference on irregular migration. I believe that each country has the right to protect its borders, but I also believe that the way of controlling borders is through cooperation between neighbouring countries. I am calling on cooperation between neighbouring countries to address this challenge.
I am certainly aware that discussions have taken place regarding this issue in Libya, but I believe cooperation and transparency in Libyan-Italian relations is a very constructive way in treating this issue, and I see that on this issue we are on the right track of strengthening this cooperation to address this challenge.'"  Compare to ANSA's coverage, and this from Oxfam: "“These testimonies paint a horrifying picture of desperate people who have risked their lives to escape war, persecution and poverty only to be confronted with unimaginable cruelty in Libya,” said Oxfam’s UK deputy CEO Penny Lawrence. The report comes some seven months after Italy signed a deal with the Presidency Council to curb migration. The agreement, set out at the Malta summit in February, included a policy to return migrants to Libya for subsequent repatriation to their home countries. The pact was heavily criticised by international NGOs." Antonio Guterres, where are you? We've asked twice, and both times been told, "Europe." On August 2, Inner City Press asked the UN Spokeman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: given particularly the Secretary-General's interest in issues of migration and refugees, there has been a vote in the Italian Parliament to approve the deployment of the navy to participate with the Libyan Coast Guard and essentially just physically block people from going.  And so, given… I guess I just wondered, does he have any response?  I know it's a… you know, of the range of EU approaches, this is one of the more aggressive.  Does he think it's a good idea to be sending your navy to stop people from trying to migrate to your country?

Spokesman:  I don't have anything on that.  I will, I need to take a look at the report a little closer before commenting.

  Five hours later, nothing. On August 3, Inner City Press asked again, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: yesterday I’d asked you about the vote in the Italian Parliament about, to send the Navy.  And now there’s already been a case now where the Italian Navy has picked up an NGO rescue ship, a self-described rescue ship, and, and, you know, taken it away and had it stop its activities.  What’s the Secretary-General’s thinking on these developments?

Spokesman:  We’ve talked to our colleagues at UNHCR who are, who are in the lead on this.  They’re trying to get a bit more details from the, from the Italians as to how this will be applied in terms of the, the presence of the Italian Navy in, in Libyan waters.

I think UNHCR has had concerns in the past and continues to have concerns in the past with the detention of, of detention by Libya of refugees and, and asylum seekers, often in difficult, very difficult, conditions.

We call on both the Italian and the Libyan Governments to ensure their increased cooperation that people who are rescued in Libyan waters have access to safety, assistance, proper reception, and protection.

Inner City Press: Is the Secretary-General aware of this 'Save Europe' flotilla or may just be a single boat? Does he have a comment on it?  And, two, how is it different in kind than what Italy is doing?

Spokesman:  Well, I mean, I think we’ve seen the press reports on Save Europe.  It’s an NGO, there are a lot of people active.  I think the focus is primarily on saving lives, on ensuring that anyone who is on the move, migrants, have their rights respected, that they’re treated humanely, that their lives are, are saved.  But this is just a stopgap measure.

We need, as we’ve said repeatedly, we need this Global Compact on, on dealing with this mass movement of people we’re seeing, seeing in the world, and it’s agreement, agreement between countries of origin, countries of transit, and countries of arrival.

  Renzi wrote: "I'd like for us to be free from guilt. We have no moral duty to welcome all the people in Italy who are worse off than us in the world. If that happened, there would be a kind of ethic, political, social and even lead to economic disaster,” he writes in bold. In large capital bold font, he goes on to write: “We do not have the moral duty to welcome them, let’s repeat that to ourselves. But, we do have the moral duty to help them. And really, the moral duty is to do so back where they come from.” While none of the many Italian correspondents "led" by real estate magnate Giampaoli Pioli who are given office space and full access at the UN asked or were even present at the July 10 UN noon briefing, when after asking about migration quotes by Louise Arbour Inner City Press sought to ask, UN spokesman Dujarric declared Last Question and brought in Wu Hongbo. (In fairness we note that Italy's Deputy Permanent Representative was one of the more attentive ambassadors on the Security Council's recent visit to Haiti.) Watch this site. A month earlier on June 9 Italy sought to promote its good works in an event at its UN Mission, celebrating a vague partnership between the UN and the Community of Sant'Egidio. In 2014, Inner City Press reported on Rwanda's complaint that the UN's Herve Ladsous helped a leader of the genocidal FDLR, Rumuli (a/k/a IYAMUREMYE Gaston, Victor Rumuri and Michel Byiringiro), in connection and conjunction with a Sant'Egidio session in Rome. Italy's UN Mission, which has been asked to sent all notices, spun what media it allowed into its 47th Street space without mentioning this controversy, and which excluding the Press which has reported on it. There's some history, and more to be said. Watch this site. While the UN Security Council visited Cameroon during the 94 day Internet cut off and said nothing publicly about it (but see below), Inner City Press has obtained and has exclusively published on Patreon and now Scribd, here Cameroon's "Urgent and Confidential" letter to the UN Security Council, about weapons. Italy is a member of the Security Council this year, and on the morning of May 18 including in light of Italian President Mattarella's meetings this year with Cameroon's 34 year president Paul Biya, Inner City Press asked Italy's Mission to the UN: "your Mission was part of the Security Council's trip including to Cameroon earlier this year, during the country's 94-day Internet shut off to millions of people in the Northwest and Southwest (or Anglophone) regions. The IMF, for what it's worth, told Inner City Press the government's Internet cut off is among other things a financial risk in 2017. Could you comment on your Mission's aware of the issue, during the Security Council visit to Cameroon and since, and on whether you believe the Secretary General and DPA, as a matter of prevention of conflict, may have a greater role to play in this long-standing, UN-related conflict or dispute?" Eight hours later, the Italian Mission's spokesperson Giovanni Davoli replied on Cameroon that "the situation you are mentioning was not in the agenda of the UNSC visit." To his credit, Swedish diplomat Carl Skau tells Inner City Press, "I can confirm that the issue was raised by the delegation in meetings." We'll have more on this. On May 17, Inner City Press asked UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujuarric what if anything Guterres is doing about Cameroon. From the UN transcript: Inner City Press: there are people saying that António Guterres' strategy of being Secretary-General is to sort of downplay the peacemaking powers of it and engage in quiet diplomacy.  And I guess the reason I'm asking you is just objectively speaking, compared to the previous administration, there are many fewer readouts, there's less… there's less being said.  Maybe it's to the good.  But, does he believe that… that this approach is bearing fruit, and if so, what fruit can you point to?

Spokesman:  I think the Secretary-General is a believer in the need for discreet contacts to be had in order to resolve crisis.  And I think it's something I… well, I think we've all observed since he's come into office.  And I think it's an important tool and not the only tool, but it's an important tool in the tools available to the world's top diplomat.

Inner City Press:  I want to ask this very specifically because I've asked you this a couple of times.  I keep hearing from people at various high floors that, in fact, the UN is concerned about Cameroon and not just the Internet, but what seems to be a case of preventive diplomacy.  So, I wanted to ask you, is there anything actually being done?  Am I missing some secret work that the UN…?

Spokesman:  I think if… well, if it's secret, it's secret.  Mr. [Francois Lonceny] Fall has been following and is the point person for the UN on this issue.

  Fall is failing. Or, Fall is the fall guy for Guterres. ...

 We raise the question: how are UN Resident Coordinators selected? Inner City Press reported on Ban Ki-moon's son in law Siddharth Chatterjee getting multiple promotion under Ban, including being named UN Resident Coordinator in Kenya by Ban himself. (Inner City Press was evicted by Ban's UN, and remains restricted under Ban's successor). But shouldn't Anglophone Cameroonians have some input into the UN's next Resident Coordinator in their country? This is a project for the Free UN Coalition for Access, @FUNCA_info. Watch these sites and feeds.

From the IMF's March 9 transcript:

"There is a question of Cameroon, from Matthew Lee, "After the Mission what is the status of talks for a program; and since the IMF cited civil unrest in the neighboring Central African Republic, please state the IMF's awareness of civil unrest and arrests in Northwest and Southwest Cameroon? And also known as the Anglophone areas, and their impact?"

So, the background here is, I think important the context. So, the Fund's engagement here in the CEMAC Region, CEMAC is the six Central African Economic nations that comprise the Central African Economic and monetary community. They met in Yaoundé on December 23rd. The Managing Director was there. And in that meeting, heads of state discussed the economic situation, the severe shocks that have hit that CEMAC region in recent years, including the sharp decline in oil prices, and decided to act collectively and in a concerted manner. And the heads of state requested the assistance of the IMF to design economic reforms needed to reestablish macroeconomic stability in each country and in the region as a whole.

So, again, context: I can tell you that the funders already sent missions to Gabon, Republic of Congo. And a reminder to you, that we already have programs with Central African Republic and Chad. Okay?

Now, we also have sent a mission to Cameroon, which is the question. And we did issue a press statement, which the question referred to, just on Tuesday. That was the Corrine Delechat reference.

So, the specific question, to turn to that. We are indeed aware of the events in the so-called Anglophone regions of Cameroon. The macroeconomic impact of any event that could affect production and/or consumption, is typically felt with a certain lag. So, these events started in November last year, and thus are likely to have not had a significant impact on production in 2016.

For 2017, the risks to our growth outlook include a combination of external and domestic factors, including continuation of the sociopolitical events in the northwest and southwest regions of Cameroon. And as our press release the other day indicated, our view is that the medium-term outlook for the Cameroonian economy remains positive, subject to the implementation of appropriate policies."

We'll have more on this. Watch this site.


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