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With UN Under Fire on 3 Continents, Vacation for Ban Ki-moon's Spokesmen

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 28 -- With the UN under fire on at least three continents in Cote d'Ivoire, Sudan, Haiti and Sri Lanka, Ban Ki-moon's spokesman's office appears to have taken a vacation.

  On December 26 and 27, Inner City Press submitted questions about mercenaries and communications in Cote d'Ivoire, promised UN visits to Sri Lanka, and the killing of civilians in Darfur.

  While these questions could easily have been answered by e-mail, the first day UN acting Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq provided only a five word answer: “UNHQ is closed on Monday.”

  Did that mean there is no support for example for the UN Mission in Ivory Coast, or that no questions could be answered?

  Inner City Press re-submitted questions on the evening of December 27, for a deadline of 12:30 pm on December 28. Haq had already announced that UN noon press briefings would be canceled, allegedly because UN correspondents this week wanted less access to information.

  But Haq said that Ban's main spokesman Martin Nesirky would be back and answering questions.

The December 28 deadline came and went without even an acknowledgment that these questions were received:

What does the UN / ONUCI know about, and what has it does about, the communications used by the Jeunes Patriotes in Cote d'Ivoire to coordinate the reported attacks?

Please state whether or not the UN / UNAMID have participated in any way in the inquiry into the Tabra / Tabarat killings of September 2010 reportedly being conducted by NCP-appointed special prosecutor for Darfur Abdel-Dayem Zumrawi.,37410

Particularly in light of Ban Ki-moon's recent sejour in Cambodia, what if anything has the UN done about “On December 17, Seng Kunnaka, a Cambodian employee with the United Nations World Food Program in Phnom Penh, was arrested on charges of incitement under article 495 of the new penal code after he shared an article with two co-workers. While the contents of the article are unclear, it was printed from KI-Media, a website that publishes news, commentaries, poetry, and cartoons that are sharply critical of the government, including a recent series of opinion pieces lambasting senior officials regarding a border dispute with Vietnam”?

Please state what if anything the UN has done to seek accountability for the killing of Charlotte Wilson and 20 other people traveling on Titanic Express bus in Burundi in 2000.

  Haq had left questions about Haiti, Somalia and other hotspots unanswered before he left, setting an auto-responding e-mail to say he would not return until January 4. Where was Nesirky?

UN's Ban & Nesirky, answers not shown

  A close member of Ban Ki-moon's team meanwhile wrote to wish Merry Christmas. The questions were put to him to, to try to get some answers. So far, none. And so it goes in Ban's UN.

Footnote: while it is often argued, not least by South Korea's Mission to the UN, that Ban Ki-moon works hard, the unprofessional lack of response and accountability by his two lead spokesman speaks volumes. Watch this site.

* * *

On Cote d'Ivoire, UN Has Nothing on Mercenaries or Blocked Broadcasts

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 27 -- Five days after UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for member states to help break the blockade and deliver supplies to peacekeepers in Abidjan, Ban's Office of the Spokesperson has stopped answering any questions about the UN in Cote d'Ivoire.

On December 23, Inner City Press asked Ban's acting Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq why at this time the UN was planning to suspend all of its noon press briefings for the week starting December 27. After claiming that it was journalists who asked to receive less information, Haq said not to worry, while he was going on vacation until January 4, main spokesman Martin Nesirky would be in charge and answering questions.

On December 26, Inner City Press sent three Cote d'Ivoire questions to Nesirky and Haq, asking for responses for a 12:30 pm December 27 deadline. These were and are the questions:

What has the UN done about mercenaries in Cote d'Ivoire since Alain Le Roy confirmed the UN's sighting of mercenaries in that country?

Please confirm or deny the UN's knowledge of Angolan fighters in Cote d'Ivoire.

Inner City Press had asked Le Roy, when he came out from briefing the Security Council last week, if he could confirm Liberian and Angolan mercenaries in Cote d'Ivoire. Yes, Le Roy said, speaking of Liberian mercenaries who spoke English and not French.

Even after Le Roy's statement, Ban's deputy spokesman Haq denied that the UN had knowledge of mercenaries. The next day, Ban himself referred to them. Then the UN stopped answering questions, including about what if anything they had done. Inner City Press also asked on December 26:

Also in Cote d'Ivoire, confirm or deny any UN involvement in or knowledge of the blocking of broadcast stations beyind Abidjan. Separately, plea se provide Ban Ki-moon's and Choi Young-jin's comment on this article (link).

Ban and Le Roy had called state broadcasting in Cote d'Ivoire hate radio for what it said of the UN. Then when it went off the air, what did they say? Apparently, nothing.

UN's Ban and Y.J. Choi, spokespeople's answers not seen

If and when we get answers from Ban's office, we will publish another article. Watch this site.

Footnote: at 11:30 am Monday, Ban acting Deputy Spokesman sent the following, in response to the three Cote d'Ivoire and other questions outstanding since the previous week and before:

From: Farhan Haq [at]
To: Inner City Press, Martin Nesirky [at]
Date: Mon, Dec 27, 2010 at 11:32 AM
Re: Press Qs on Cote d'Ivoire, Darfur, Sri Lanka and Kosovo (and old questions... reiterated re [26] days ago

UNHQ is closed on Monday. Thanks.

* * *

Darfur Seems An Afterthought In Ban Ki-moon's UN, Defense of Gambari, Withholding of Massacre Reports

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 17 -- “Mister Gambari has been working very hard with the Sudanese government,” UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told the Press on Friday of his envoy in Darfur.

  Inner City Press had asked why the UN peacekeepers under Ibrahim Gambari's UNAMID command did not leave their base when dozens of civilians were murdered in Tabarat in September, and whether Ban would at least make UNAMID's report on the killings public.

  “We will have to see,” Ban answered. But UNAMID has answered requests for copies of the report by saying it is up to the Secretary General.

Until the very end of Ban's end of year press conference, run by acting Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq, there had been no questions or answers about Sudan, where the UN has two $1 billion peacekeeping operations. After a protest, Haq allowed the Sudan question from Inner City Press:

On Darfur, you said it was one of your priorities. As the year ends, the government of Omar al Bashir is attacking the one rebel group it supposed made peace with, the Minni Minawi group, UNAMID has no access to Jebel Marra and ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo says that UNAMID doesn't report attacks on civilians because it is threatened by the government. You summoned Ibrahim Gambari to meet you... about the massacres in Tabarat, after the UN peackeeepers didn't even leave their base in Tawila to do to the site. Even the report on these Tabarat killings is being withheld. What will you do differently in 2011?

  To this Darfur question, Ban responded largely about the Southern Sudan referendum. He said, “The situation in Sudan will be one of the top concerns of international community starting January 9... There are sticking issues, to establish a commission in Abyei.” Video here, from Minute 51:31.

  After that Ban turned briefing to Darfur, saying that “the security situation in Darfur a serious concern. The recent bombing by the Sudanese government of the north and south boundary of southern sudan... [We are] making demarches that the Sudanese government should be cooperative. This afternooon I meet the Minister for Peace and the CPA for Southern Sudan to discuss this matter.”

Of the so-called Doha process, Ban answered that the “peace negotiation has not been progressing well. Except that government of Sudan and the Liberation and Justice Movement LJM have agreed to a negotiation text. That can be done, but without participation of all other rebel movements -- JEM, SLA and Abdel Wahid -- without their participation this negotiation will not be sustainable. Joint mediator Bassole is asserting his best efforts.”

Then Ban defended Ibrahim Gambari, saying that “Mister Gambari has been working very hard with the Sudanese government... to have freedom of movement of UN peacekeepers.”

  This implies that the peacekeepers in Tawila for example tried to go to the Tabarat or Tabra site but were stopped by the government. But internal UN communications obtained by Inner City Press show that the UN Peacekeepers told relatives of those being killed and injured that they had come to late, to come back in the morning.

UN's Ban & Gambari, report on Tabarat massacre not shown

Now the report on the incident is being withheld, with UNAMID saying it is up to the Secretary General, who when asked would not released, instead speaking of “consultations.”

Inner City Press also asked if the report on Sri Lanka war crimes inquiries by Ban's three person Panel of Experts will be made public. Ban did not answer this either. Watch this site.

Footnote: There was widespread dissatisfaction in the UN press corp about how acting Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq ran the press conference, and about lack of question and answer opportunities with Ban Ki-moon throughout 2010. Ban said he will make an announcement in early 2011 about seeking a second term as S-G. We'll see.

 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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