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On Sudan, UN Won't Confirm Darfur Conflict or Panel's Diaspora Work, Outsourced by Ban

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 24 -- On Sudan, the UN is either negligent or deceptive or both. Repeatedly this month Inner City Press has asked the UN to confirm or deny reports by rebel groups in Darfur of government attacks and bombings.

  Acting Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq has said he will look into it, or that Ibrahim “Gambari is in Darfur,” or on November 24, that UNAMID's report of its daily activities doesn't mention the bombings, so they are not confirmed. Video here, from Minute 8:25.

  But UNAMID's daily reports are full of happy talk, about the number of patrols conducted. They never mentioned that UNAMID had not visited much less protected civilians for months in Jebel Marra.

On November 24, Inner City Press asked Haq if Gambari or mediator Djibril Bassole have any comment on the break with Khartoum by Minni Minnawi, the lone Darfur rebel who signed a deal with Omar al Bashir. No, there was no comment.

  Ban Ki-moon on November 22 said he had made Darfur his major priority. Now there are no answers, no comments, no monitoring, nothing.

  On November 22, Inner City Press asked whether the panel named by Ban Ki-moon has jurisdiction over, and anything to say about, the polling sites outside of Sudan for the South Sudanese diaspora.

  Haq declined to answer, saying to ask the panel's spokesperson. But isn't it Ban Ki-moon's own panel? Can one outsource supposed concern? Ban's spokesperson's office canceled its noon briefing on November 26.

Gambari and Minnawi, answers on Darfur fighting not shown

From the UN's November 22 transcript:

Inner City Press: I want to ask about Sudan on the statement that you made from the Secretary-General’s Panel on the referendum. There seems to be a lot of controversy about the low numbers of Southern registrants in the North. Some people are putting the number as low as 9,000. So it seemed like, in your statement, you are saying some Southerners are encouraging other Southerners — I just want to understand, because the SPLM [Sudan People’s Liberation Movement] blames it all on Khartoum.

Acting Deputy Spokesperson Haq: Well, that was just a summary of a press conference that President Mkapa held in Khartoum, and I’d just refer you to the transcript of that. We have that available in our office.

Inner City Press: And does the Secretary-General’s Panel have any role in overseeing these sites, these eight Diaspora voting sites in Africa, the United States, Australia? Are they going to visit any of those sites? And there is some controversy now about the IOM [International Organization for Migration] role in it. It’s not exactly clear to me who is funding the IOM for that work, but what is the Panel’s role on these other sites?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson: No, you can check with the Panel itself about the sites. It’s looking at the whole referenda process, which includes sites for Southerners to vote in the North.

Inner City Press: But isn’t his Panel — I have had some problem in the past getting responses from the Panel, so I just wanted to know, it’s the Secretary-General, he set up the terms of reference, it’s his delegated Panel, right?

From the UN's November 24 transcript:

Inner City Press: on Sudan, there are also reports again in Darfur of fighting between the SLA [Sudanese Liberation Army] and the Government in [inaudible] in Darfur. And I wanted to… yesterday, this is now, there are four separate allegations, some by JEM [Justice and Equality Movement], some by SLA, of fighting with the Government. And I am just wondering there hasn’t been either a confirmation or denial by UNAMID [African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur]. Is UNAMID aware of this report and what does it say about these now mounting reports of escalating fighting in Darfur?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson Haq: Well, we’ve received different information from UNAMID about their daily activities; it does not include a confirmation of this particular burst of fighting.

Inner City Press: On the previous ones that have… of the report by JEM of a week’s worth of bombing in the Jebel Marra area, is that something that the UN, UNAMID, has tried to figure out if it’s taking place or…?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson: Well, with UNAMID’s mandate, they try to monitor any violations of the agreements on the ground. But they do not — they have not provided a confirmation on this.

Inner City Press: And now that Minni Minawi, who previously had been on board with the National Congress Party, has now come out and said that the National Congress Party has violated the Darfur Peace Agreement and is basically, I am just wondering, this seems like a major development, in that the one peace agreement in Darfur is falling apart, or at least the leader of Minni Minawi’s faction is saying that it’s falling apart. What’s UNAMID’s or Mr. [Djibril] Bassolé’s response to that?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson: I don’t believe that he has responded to the particular comments of any precise party. If he does have a comment on what Minni Minawi has said, we will share it.

   Ban's spokesperson's office canceled its noon briefing on November 26, and has now been asked "why?" Watch this site.

* * *

With Garbari in Darfur, UN Won't Confirm Bombings, Ignores Sudan Questions

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 23 -- As the UN rushed Tuesday to do a press conference with Johnson & Johnson, it allowed only a single question, about Darfur. Inner City Press asked if the UN and the UNAMID mission have the capacity or the will to confirm or deny reports of Sudanese government “air raids on large areas in North Darfur on Kariyari, Boba, Furawiya, Wadi Howar and up to Alkhaim.”

UNAMID cannot confirm those reports, replied acting deputy spokesman Farhan Haq. He said Gambari has actually been visiting North Darfur, and we have some information available on that.” But where? Of late Inner City Press has asked for UN confirmation or denial of various government attacks and killing in Darfur, and the UN has brushed off the questions during its briefing, and not responded afterwards.

Meanwhile in his November 22 address at Seton Hall in New Jersey, called his re-election speech, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon claimed that “in Darfur.... for years, conflict raged... today, the mission continues to protect civilians.” Continues?

UN's Ban & Gambari, claims of civilian protection not shown

From the November 23 UN transcript:

Inner City Press: I wanted to know if the UN can confirm that JEM [Justice and Equality Movement] rebels in Darfur are saying that there has been a week of bombing campaigns by the Government in North Darfur, and I am just… There have been a number of questions that have built up for UNAMID [African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur] to either confirm or deny, and Mr. Ban’s speech said that somehow Darfur is now so peaceful. Is UNAMID actually tracking… does it have any capacity or will to report on bombing by the Government in Darfur?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson Haq: UNAMID has not confirmed this attack. Mr. [Ibrahim] Gambari has actually been visiting North Darfur, and we have some information available on that, but there is no confirmation of these particular reported attacks. And with that, I have to clear the room for our next guest.

   Also still unanswered, despite being submitted in writing to Haq and the Spokesman Martin Nesirky:

1) On Darfur, some question why JMAC data is not on UNAMID's web site, some say it is routinely and selectively leaked. Please respond, and whether these figures include Tarabat market.

2) Please confirm or deny that staff of Mr. Deng's Prevention of Genocide office are asked to work on his books, quantify what amount of time and whether this complies with UN rules, and if the books should be attributed to the UN.

  This last question has actually been asked three times without answer, as have questions about the Secretary General's links with Sri Lanka and its leadership, which Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky has said may never be answered.

 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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