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As Sudan Starves Kalma camp and Jebel Marra, UN Has Stayed Quiet, OCHA is AWOL

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 6 -- In Darfur, why has the UN remained so quiet not only about Sudan blocking humanitarian aid into the Kalma camp since August 2, but into eastern Jebel Marra since February 2010?

In an August 4 response to a question from Inner City Press about restrictions and the Kalma camp, chief UN peacekeeper Alain Le Roy said that the government had blocked humanitarian groups for the four previous days.

On August 5, Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Martin Nesirky to confirm this blocking of aid. Nesirky said he would check. Since the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs is supposed to have and provide information on just these topics, Inner City Press e-mailed two OCHA spokespeople, thinking that confirmation should be on hand. But hours later, OCHA replied that it was checking with people.

Still having no answer on the morning of August 6, Inner City Press asked OCHA again, and some addition questions about the discontinuation of UN reporting on humanitarian issues in Darfur, including malnutrition. (OCHA referred this question to UNICEF, to which Inner City Press has now forwarded the questions).

At the UN noon briefing of Friday, August 6, Inner City Press asked again about Kalma camp, and Nesirky said again that he would have to check. Where is OCHA chief John Holmes? Inner City Press asked, isn't this precisely the type of situation OCHA is supposed to advocate, and loudly, about?

After the noon briefing, Associate Spokesman Farhan Haq provided this answer, that OCHA confirms lack of access to Kalma camp since August 2, and to eastern Jebel Marra “since February 2010.” He said the OCHA is advocating “locally.”

First, this “local” advocacy, if it exists, has not worked: witness the continuing lack of access to east Jebel Marra for more than FIVE MONTHS.

Second, it is unclear why this OCHA would grow so quiet on this issue. Inner City Press asked, are there other situations OCHA is staying quiet about? Nesirky did not answer, and the OCHA spokespeople have yet to answer the questions Inner City Press put to them on August 5.

UN's Ban and Holmes (and Pascoe), speaking out on Sudan's aid blockade not shown

Nor would Nesirky confirm to Reuters the Sudan Tribune's report on the UN's “talking points” to Khartoum, nor to Inner City Press whether Khartoum has formally asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to turn over six people in Kalma camp it claims are responsible for the violence.

Has the UN come to any of the “full understanding of the facts” behind the violence in Kalma camp which the Security Council asked for a full week ago? You could have asked Le Roy on August 4, answered Nesirky, who on that day limited Inner City Press' questions.

The question remains: where is OCHA? Where is John Holmes? Where, for that matter, is Ban Ki-moon. Physically, he is in Japan. But where is he on the issue, of Sudan's intentional starvation of people in Kalma camp and eastern Jebel Marra?

And if this is addressed with a “statement attributable to the spokesperson for the Secretary General,” would Ban Ki-moon walk away from the statement, after a governmental complaint, as he did on the UN's statement about Kashmir? Watch this site.

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In Darfur, Aid Groups Barred from Kalma Camp, DPKO Says,  No Comments Abyei Incursions, No US or UNSC Follow Through

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 4 -- In Darfur, while the UN is giving assurances that the violence in the Kalma camp has passed, humanitarian groups have been barred from the camp, housing eighty thousand internally displaced people, for the past four days. This emerged only upon detailed questioning of top UN peacekeeper Alain Le Roy. Video here, from Minute 47:36.

  Inner City Press asked if there had not also been murders in the Zalingi camp -- Le Roy said yes -- and about the restrictions on UN peacekeepers' movements ordered by Sudanese authorities.

 Le Roy said that while the Wali of South Darfur has issued such a declaration, requiring advance notice of any UNAMID mission movements, including on the roads, the UN is “discussing” this with Khartoum.

  One wonders why the UN has not said more about the barring of humanitarian groups from the Kalma camp. Is it a sop to the government, or reflective of a lull before new UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos takes over in September?

  Why has the US, after Friday's consultations, not asked for any Council action in the five days since? There were rumors early in the week of an Obama administration re-think of, or at least meeting on, Sudan policy. But it does not appear to have happened.

  While admitting further deterioration and tensions in Darfur, the UN is still putting South Sudan developments in a positive light, noting that the National Congress Party as well as SPLM have asked the UN to monitor the referendum.

  Le Roy said the UN does not usually monitor, but in this case is moving toward naming three Eminent Persons, whom it will support with 10 to 20 staff, to monitor.

Inner City Press asked who would choose the Eminent Persons -- might they included former South African president and Al Bashir supporter Thabo Mbeki? -- but Le Roy did not answer.

 Regarding Abyei, he described the Dinka questioning the rights of nomads to come in and vote, but said it would be up to a Commission which does not yet exist.

UN's Le Roy in Sudan, humanitarian access not shown

Le Roy's logistics colleague Susana Malcorra recently briefed the Press, and was asked by Inner City Press what the UN would do to ensure that those Southerners in the north who are registered to vote by the NCP can, in fact, vote.

Sources tell Inner City Press that Khartoum plans to register many Southerners and then make it difficult to vote, to drive turn out below 60% and invalidate the referendum. Ms. Malcorra said that the UN would be watching Southern registrants in the North. But Le Roy on Wednesday spoke only of the South. Watch this site.

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On Darfur Camp Violence, Nur's Role as Unclear as US Stance on Doha, Sudan Says Camp Is Under UN Control, Lobbies

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 30, updated -- Darfur camp violence was taken up by the UN Security Council on Friday afternoon. According to UN sources, members of the Liberation and Justice Movement group which is negotiating with Khartoum were targeted by members of the Abdel Wahid Nur faction, which is not.

While the United States called for the consultations, it is not clear if the US stands with the UN and its Darfur envoy Ibrahim Gambari in saying that the solution to Darfur is to be found in Doha across the table from Omar al Bashir's negotiators.

French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner loudly announced that Paris based Abdel Wahid Nur would be joining the Doha process. Nearly immediately, Abdel Wahid Nur qualified this with the conditions previously listed, including safety in Darfur.

Inner City Press asked Ibrahim Gambari on July 27 about Abdel Wahid Nur's participation. Gambari said no, and characterized the conditions, including safety, as something you get at the END of negotiations, not as a precondition. One can see this as either realism or a too cavalier attitude to the protection of civilians, especially for one in charge of a peacekeeping mission with such a mandate.

More Kalma from the past, Gambari not shown

Sudan's acting Ambassador, on his way at 4 pm into the Council's suite where he would not be allowed into consultations, said that Gambari had told him at 2:30 that he would be placing some calls to get information, and would himself be giving the briefing at 4. But at that time, he was spotted by an Inner City Press source strolling the streets outside the UN, dress in white national dress.

Gambari also said on June 27 that he has gone to Paris twice to meet Abdel Wahid Nur. Three days later, he is still in New York, but not in the consultations room. Briefing was Alain Le Roy of Peacekeeping, joined at 4:40 by Lynn Pascoe of Political Affairs.

The South Sudan referendum Eminent persons monitoring group the UN is moving to set up, which Inner City Press exclusively reported earlier today, would be staffed by Pascoe's Department of Political Affairs and not the UN peacekeeping mission run by Haile Menkerios. Whether Pascoe's arrival at the Council was about this, or the Doha process implications of the attacks in the Darfur IDP camps is not yet known. Watch this site.

Update of 5:09 -- Sudan's charge d'affaires was lobbying in the hall outside the Council. “We cannot live with a paragraph about inspecting the Kalma camp... the camp is under the control of UNAMID...” Then, after fumbling with their passes, they went into the Council's suite. Coming out were the outgoing Nigerian presidency's plants and bean bag chairs with Islamic script. Coming in -- Russia's set up, for August..

Update of 5:29 p.m. -- there will be a press statement. Unclear if it will include the paragraph about inspecting or investigating in Kalma camp, which Sudan is opposing.

Update of 5:55 p.m. -- while UN TV had been told the press statement would be ready and read by now, the Council has gone into recess. Inner City Press is told by Council source that France has proposed the UN send an investigation team to Kalma camp. China and Russia have opposed it, as does Sudan. Developing.

Update of 6:13 p.m. -- Here's what happened: France “aggressively” asked for an investigation, setting of “red lights” among some other delegations. But wait - the US asked the meeting, but France made the proposal. Why? Le Roy pointed the finger at the Abdel Wahid Nur group, but France says they've spoken to him and he denies it. THAT's why France wants the investigation. You heard it here first....

 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.

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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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