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On S. Sudan, Lanzer Answers on Pibor but Not Press Freedom, of CAR & ICC

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 27 -- When UN humanitarian Toby Lanzer took questions Tuesday by Twitter, it was about South Sudan. He answered one from Inner City Press, ignored another about open government from the Free UN Coalition for Access.

 But it was hard not to remember when he worked in the Central African Republic, where things have gotten even worse now than when Lanzer was there in 2008.

  On South Sudan, Inner City Press asked Lanzer what has been done since UN Peacekeepers were filmed standing by as a column of Lou Nuer fighters marched by. Lanzer replied, and Inner City Press re-tweeted, that "We've stepped up UN patrols in Pibor County. Aid operation also reaching more people - 65,000 registered for aid so far."

He did not answer about UN or aid contingency plans if Sudan cuts off the oil flow from South Sudan, as threatened, on September 6. Nor did he answer this, from the Free UN Coalition for Access:

On free press, @TobyLanzer, what does #UN say to new cabinet banning coverage of meetings, incl on aid? #SouthSudanInFocus

  Perhaps press freedom, often in question in South Sudan -- see Herve Ladsous' spokeperson Kieran Dwyer's use of just this issue near the end of this video -- is not seen as an issue related to aid. But it is.

  When Lanzer was in CAR, he offered praise to Bozize, now seen as corrupt, including for inviting in the International Criminal Court.

  On August 27 at the UN, after Lanzer ended his Twitter session with a back and forth with Mia Farrow, Inner City Press asked UN spokesperson Farhan Haq if the UN or its envoy Babacar Gaye have any comment on an ICC-indicted Sudanese general Abdel Raheem Muhammad Hussein visiting the CAR.

  Haq said they had no recent communications from Gaye's BONUCA mission. By the end of the day the UN sent a press release about the violence, but nothing on the ICC, whose invitation into the CAR in 2008 Lanzer praised. Round and round. But always hoping for better. Watch this site.


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