Bombs Jebel Marra & Blockades Darfur IDPs, UN Won't Respond
February 19 -- Amid Sudan bombings and blockades of
humanitarian aid in Darfur, the UN has done little on the ground
questions in New York.
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky admitted to
Inner City Press that peacekeepers
in Darfur had not gone to the
Jebel Marra villages they had heard being bombed, and had done
nothing as an Internally Displaced Persons camp at Zamzam was
blockaded by the government.
15, Inner City Press asked
Press: UNAMID, the UN-African Union peacekeeping mission in
Darfur is quote, widely perceived sympathetic to the Government and
on the whole is not trusted by Darfuris. The perception was
undoubtedly made worse when the Government recently stated that
UNAMID’s core job was to help the Government implement its strategy
for Darfur. Can you respond? Isn’t, is it correct that UNAMID’s
core strategy is to work with the Government to implement its
strategy in Darfur which has been criticized as genocidal? And what
is the response to this, to this, you know, to this study and to many
of the questions still pending with your Office about Darfur, camp
raids, et cetera?
Just two points: One is that I think I’d like to take a
closer look at the report that you mention. And secondly, that
UNAMID works under a very clear Security Council mandate, and I would
refer you to that. It explains there precisely what its role is. But as
I say, I’ll need to take a closer look at the report that
did respond to the report. Rather, when Inner City Press asked about
it again on February 16, Nesirky claimed he had answered the
questions the previous day, that is in the transcript above and
referred to a press conference in Khartoum by UN envoy Ibrahim
Gambari, that he was belatedly adopting a “more robust” approach
in Darfur as demanded (with little follow through) by the UN Security
Council. Then Nesirky turned away from the questions.
UN's Ban & Gambari, response to Darfur bombs
& blockades not shown
Here is the
February 16 transcript:
Press: I want to ask you some questions about Sudan. One is
that the SPLM [Sudan People’s Liberation Movement] in this new
fighting with General [George] Athor, he is saying that Khartoum is
providing him weapons and supporting him. I wonder what UNMIS has to
say about that. And also what UNAMID has to say about reports of
renewed fighting in Wadi Mora, and also this expulsion of
du Monde from Darfur and the allegations by the governor there that
Médecins du Monde with UNAMID was delivering expired
medications. Does UNAMID, you know, deny that, and what have they said
On the very last part, I am not aware of that particular
aspect, but I know that Mr. [Ibrahim] Gambari was briefing
correspondents today in Khartoum, and did address the question of the
expulsion of Médecins du Monde. He said that this was most
regrettable, and there is a mechanism when any NGO is facing such a
dilemma that there should be some kind of negotiations between the
central Government and local authorities — and that would include
help from UNAMID on the ground. And this is something that I know
that our humanitarian colleagues are looking at right now.
du Monde has been playing a critical role in providing medical
support. And they are obviously not the first NGO to find themselves
in this position, and this is not something that we feel comfortable
with because obviously they play an important role. Mr. Gambari did
speak a little bit more about in Khartoum today.
Press: And what’s your response to that report that came out
yesterday among other things, saying that UNAMID is perceived as
being too close to the Government?
Well, I answered that yesterday, you know. UNAMID has a
very clear Security Council mandate. I answered that question
I am just answering on Darfur here. What I can tell you is that on
some fighting that has been taking place in Shangil Tobaya, and that
we are certainly concerned about that fighting, and a humanitarian
assessment mission is planning to visit the area tomorrow with UNAMID
military escorts. And it is our understanding that the fighting that
has been talking place there since the 15th — so that is yesterday
— has displaced a large number of people from the local population. And
we would certainly call on all the parties to cease fire
immediately and resume negotiations, not least because these clashes
between Government and rebel forces and air strikes by the Government
have, it would seem, led to the loss of life; losses of life, and as
I say, displacement of civilians. Yes, Sylviane.
Sorry to interrupt, but I want to know, there is, next week, there
is a Security Council on the Middle East. It seems that it is very
important since the Security Council didn’t meet for the
[inaudible] to discuss the Middle East. Do you know who will be
briefing the Council on that matter?
I don’t at the moment, but I am happy to find out.
shifted, at the UN's noon briefing on February 17 there were no Sudan
questions, much less answers. Finally on February 18 Inner City Press
about (non) implementation of Gambari's new strategy:
Press: There are reports of Government airplanes with Antonov
bombing in Wadi Mura and some other villages in Darfur. And I wanted
to know whether UNAMID [African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation
in Darfur] is aware of that, if they are sending anyone out, if they
have any access to the area? There are also these reports of the
ZamZam IDP [internally displaced persons] camp, which I think UNAMID
has some protection role, being blockaded by the Government now for
two days running. Is there some… can you confirm that?
On the first, the bombing in the region of Shangil Tobaya and
Wadimura as you mentioned, the mission is reporting that sounds of
heavy explosions were heard at frequent intervals, throughout the
day. And a patrol tasked to carry out investigation and verification
of fighting in the area was advised by the Sudanese military at
Shangil Tobaya that they should not visit Wadimura because these air
operations were still going on. And the team was told that they
might get clearance to allow a UNAMID patrol to visit Wadimura on 19
February — that’s tomorrow. They were trying to get that
clearance from higher authorities at El Fasher if the situation comes
under control. So that is what I have on that. We are fully aware,
obviously, of what is going on and the need to be able to gain access
to investigate and to verify what the cost is on the ground. So,
that’s on the first thing.
second one that you talked about, about the ZamZam camp; well,
our understanding is that the fighting has displaced — and I
mentioned this earlier in the week, I think — a large number of the
local population. And this has included a large influx of IDPs into
ZamZam IDP camp, as many as 1,400 families, but it is the case,
regrettably, that the Government of Sudan has suspended humanitarian
access, that has been since 16 February — so that is two days ago. And
we mentioned that a humanitarian assessment mission was planned
for that day, and we understand from UNAMID that the patrol has so
far not been able to get through beyond Dar el Salaam, which is about
45 kilometres east of Shangil Tobaya, and this is because, as I
mentioned, there is still activity by the Sudanese Air Force in the
Press: Can I just ask one, because I did go and read what
Ibrahim Gambari said in his press conference in Khartoum and he
seemed to be announcing a new approach, in some way a response to
criticism that was leveled by some Security Council members on being
more active. But it seems like in both of these cases, you are
saying like the Government said: “don’t go”, and so UNAMID
said: “we can’t go”. Is it… How is this consistent with the
Well, that’s not quite what I am saying. I hear what you
are saying, and Mr. Gambari has been quite clear about the need for a
more robust response, not just the need, but the intention to carry
through and follow through on that. I think the point here is that
there is bombing going on, not to put too fine a point on it. And
that would obviously make it difficult to operate on the ground
there. But Mr. Gambari has indeed been quite clear on what needs to
happen. And as and when I have more details on whether this, one,
the verification patrol has been able to get through, and two, the
humanitarian assessment mission has been able to get through, then I
would happily share that with you.
the past is any
guide, with many Darfur related questions pending at the Office of
the Spokesperson for the Secretary General without any response, we
won't be holding our breath. But we will continue asking. Watch this
* * *
Indictee Haroun Was In Its Budget, Won't Disclose Cost
-- After the UN begrudgingly confirmed to Inner
City Press that it had provided transportation to Ahmed Haroun,
indicted for war crimes in Darfur by the International Criminal
Court, the office of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson
Martin Nesirky insisted that it was “on a space available basis...
at no additional operational costs to the mission.”
two weeks ago, Inner City Press began asking Nesirky:
your answer that Ahmed Haroun, indicted by the ICC for war crimes in
Darfur, flew on a pre-existing UN flight, in light of footage from
interview in South Kordofan which Haroun arranged with UN plane on
camera behind him, please state who else was on the flight with him,
how frequent UN flights between Abyei and South Kordofan are and what
size aircrafts are used.”
not been answer answer to this question, on February 11 in
front of the UN Security Council Inner City Press asked the head of
the UN Mission in Sudan Haile Menkerios if Haroun had been flown on a
regular UN flight.
“there is no direct flight to Abyei. We flew him there in order to
take him... We flew him by helicopter to Abyei because there is no
response that the UN's flight of ICC indictee
Haroun was “on a space available basis... at no additional
operational costs to the mission.”
And so on
February 14 Inner City
Press asked Nesirky to explain the discrepancy, and reiterated the
request to know who else was on the flight, and how much it cost.
Inner City Press to “read
blog” and then denied
there was any contradiction:
wanted to ask you about this, the flying by UNMIS of
Ahmed Haroun, who is indicted by the ICC. And earlier response from
your office had said that…
why don’t you read out what your blog
you read out…?
what I would like to know, I’d like to know what
your response is.
you read out what the top of your blog said today? Do
you want to read out the top, what your blog actually says?
like… okay, fine, I mean… I guess that… I
was trying to ask you a question. I thought that was the purpose of
mean, just ask the question, but…
my question is, how is it consistent with the
response that I got that said that there were these pre-existing
seats and were done at no additional cost to the Mission with Mr.
[Haile] Menkerios’ statement that there was a special helicopter
used because there are no regular flights to Abyei. How are the two
consistent? And what was the cost to Abyei? And…
think there is a very clear answer to this. And that is
that, at the request of the Government and when space is available,
UNMIS provides seats on its flights to Government officials on
official business related to the peace process, and without any
financial implications to the Government and at no additional
operational costs to the Mission. This means that, as part of the
Mission's mandate, the cost of transporting Government officials,
whether it is on a regular or a special flight, is already allocated
in the Mission's budget and so there is no question of it incurring
any additional operational costs.
UN's Ban & spox Nesirky, cost of flying ICC indictee not shown
— and as mentioned indeed by the Special
Representative of the Secretary-General, Mr. Menkerios — a regular
flight was not available and therefore UNMIS transported Governor
Haroun as part of its mandate to provide good offices to the parties,
under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, in their efforts to resolve
their differences through dialogue and negotiations.
you will recall, at the time there were clashes in Abyei
going on at the time, and those clashes threatened to escalate. And
it was Governor Haroun who was instrumental in bringing the Misseriya
leaders to that meeting in Abyei, and this helped to prevent further
you understand why the answer that said on a
space-available basis and at no additional operational cost to the
Mission created the impression that this was a pre-existing flight,
as from, for example, Kinshasa to Goma, on which he put somebody on
an existing flight? I mean, that’s why I have been asking who else
was on the flight and how much did the flight cost. It seems a fair
question when transporting an indicted ICC indicted of war crimes.
as we’ve said very clearly, no additional operational
costs are involved. Within the budget there are costs that cover
transport, and there is no additional cost involved in the flight
that was provided.
idea of like a special UN flight to fly Mr. Haroun
to Abyei being at no additional costs to the Mission. I just, I guess
are blocks of time available for flights, and that is
already budgeted into the Mission’s budget, and indeed that is a
standard procedure in any mission which has an aircraft.
the UN fly Omar al-Bashir to Darfur? I mean, I
guess I just want to know where it stops. I guess I just want to
reiterate my question, despite the simplest way to do it, how much
the flight actually cost - because there is, I am sure, a cost to it
– and who else was on the flight? I mean, it seemed like a pretty
fair… because there is controversy around this flight and I just
find that the answer that was given, at least I know, maybe I am…
maybe I am a bad reader, but it’s… when it says when seats are
available and at no additional cost it implies that the flight was a
pre-existing flight on which, at no cost to the Mission, they put Mr.
Haroun on the flight. But it’s not the case.
is as I said to you, when space is available and at the
request of the Government, the Mission provides seats on its flights.
And it doesn’t, there are no financial implications for the
Government, and no additional operational costs to the mission.
when you said like when seats are available,
usually this implies…
on, we’re moving round in circles, Matthew. Let’s
move on to the next question. I am sure you have another question.
there are many
more questions. Watch this site.
* * *
to Abyei, NGOs & US Have Yet
Mission in Sudan transported and
assisted International Criminal Court indictee Ahmed Harun, UN
spokesman Martin Nesirky confirmed to Inner City Press on Tuesday,
because the UN finds Harun helpful in dealing with violence in Abyei.
Nesirky implied that the UN will continue to transport
Harun, saying that the UN "will continue to provide necessary support
to key players." Video
transported Harun, not only in light of his ICC
indictment for war crimes in Darfur, but also of the capacities
the Sudanese Air Force, which has recently conducted bombing raids
and near Southern Sudan.
Air Force can bomb, Inner City Press asked, why can't it fly Harun to
Abyei? Nesirky did not answer this question. Nor would he tell Inner
City Press if UNMIS, led by Haile Menkerios, had checked with UN
Headquarters' Office of Legal Affairs or Ban Ki-moon before
transporting an indicted war criminal.
seems to some
that the Sudanese government of Omar al Bashir, who has also been
indicted by the ICC for genocide as well as war crimes, has no lack
of capacity to transport its official Harun, but instead wanted to
get the UN further involved in undercutting the war crimes
the Mission in Darfur UNAMID Ibrahim
Gambari attended the inauguration of Omar al Bashir. Inner City Press
asked Nesirky, without answer, if the UN would provide transport and
assistance to other ICC indictees, including Joseph Kony of the the
Lord's Resistance Army, widely thought to be in South Darfur.
UN Security Council in Sudan w/ Gambari, 10/10 (c)MRLee
asked representatives of
non-governmental organizations active on Sudan about the UN's
transport of ICC indictee Harun. David Abramowitz, the Director of
Policy and Government Relations of the group Humanity United, said
that he wasn't aware of the reports of Harun being transported, "I have
not seen that report."
has the US
administration, including its Mission at the UN, yet spoken on the
matter. Some wonder whether they were consulted, even whether, in
light of the offer to delink Darfur from the offer to remove some
sanctions on Sudan in exchange for the South Sudan referendum, if the
Executive Director of the Genocide Intervention Network / Save Darfur
Coalition, said he hadn't
seen the report confirmed, but either way
it did not send a good message to the people of Darfur, where Harun
was indicted for war crimes: "already Darfuri are suspicious of UNAMID
and UN personnel."
fact, Harun was
indicted for working with and organizing the type of nomadic tribes
which are accused of the killings in Abyei, and now in South Kordofan
state as well.
told Inner City Press that "Governor Harun was critical" to bringing
the Miseriya tribes together. Video
in this view,
it is not only a matter of the fox guarding the hen house: the UN has
taken to transporting the fox to the hen house. Where will there be
accountability? Watch this site.
Click here for Inner City
Press' March 27 UN debate
Click here for Inner City
Press March 12 UN (and AIG
Click here for Inner City
Press' Feb 26 UN debate
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.
* * *
usually also available through Google
News and on Lexis-Nexis.
for a Reuters
AlertNet piece by this correspondent
about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click
for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali
Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an
undefined trust fund. Video
some are available
in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.