by UN Council Stalled by Bashir Photo Op Concerns, P-2
September 17 -- The Sudanese trip of the UN Security
Council, initially slated for early October, is in jeopardy of being
canceled. Sudan has indicated that if the Council visits, a meeting
and photo opportunity with the country's President would be required.
This week several
Permanent Five members of the Council told Inner City Press that
their Ambassadors could not meet with Omar al Bashir, due to his
indictment by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and
prohibition is presented as a matter of law, three of the Permanent
Five are not members of the ICC, and therefore appear under no
prohibition from meeting with indictees. Thus it is a matter of
choice, of politics and of perception.
On September 16, a
self described senior US official told Inner City Press that
respect to a potential Security Council mission [to Sudan], we've
talked informally in the Security Council since the beginning of the
year [including] about the obvious complication that such a trip
poses. You guys know that the Security Council referred the issue of
Sudan to the International Criminal Court, and there the outstanding
indictments, and that's a political fact. We have some legal
realities that can't be ignored. We're still frankly talking amongst
ourselves about how to deal with them. And it's not clear whether
they can be dealt with adequately to enable a trip in the near term.”
member of the Council that is a member of the ICC but say it would,
given the stakes for Sudanese civilians, be willing to go and meet
Bashir complained to Inner City Press that so far the discussion of
this issue has been confined not even to the full P-5, but rather to
the assigned leaders of different legs of the trip as planned: the US
(for South Sudan) and the UK (for Darfur).
"Real diplomats don't run scared of photo ops
when people are threatened with death," the complainant argued to Inner
Inner City Press
asked the senior US official about this concern and the response was
that “We always have conversations about P-5 and those
conversations always end up in the larger Council.” The US official
added that of course, approval of any trip would require the
involvement of all 15 member of the Council. But cancellation of the
planned trip can be done by a mere two members?
Bashir with UNAMID's Gambari, April 2010, US/UK not shown
With the high
profile September 24 meeting on Sudan at the UN coming closer, some
wonder if with the involvement of Sudanese Vice President Taha and US
President Obama, the stumbling blocks could be overcome.
suggestions are that some Ambassadors simply stay in their hotel
while others meet Bashir, or that they attend but not shake Bashir's
Inner City Press
covered the Council's 2008 trip to Sudan (as well as Kenya, Djibouti,
the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Cote d'Ivoire) and
witnessed then US Deputy Permanent Representative Alejandro Wolff, UK
Permanent Representative John Sawers and French PR Jean Maurice
Ripert meeting with Bashir and other Sudanese officials.
then; this is now. Watch this site.
* * *
Working With Sudan Gov't, Justifies
Withholding of Darfur Data
15 -- A month after the UN Office for the
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said it would provide Darfur
malnutrition data to the Press in “one or two days,” new OCHA
chief Valerie Amos responded that the UN has been slowed by trying to
do “joint assessments” with Sudan's government.
peacekeepers of UNAMID in Darfur refuse to leave their bases to
protect civilians without getting approval from the Sudanese
authorities. But why would the UN's ostensibly independent
humanitarian arm tie its ability to release information about
malnutrition to obtaining the joint agreement of the very government
accused of playing a role in the starvation?
Inner City Press
asked more generally what Ms. Amos will do about humanitarian, not
only in Jebel Marra in Darfur, from which NGOs have been barred since
February, but also Waziristan in western Pakistan, blockaded by the
military and subject to done strikes in the US. Video here,
Ms. Amos began by
saying that the “independence and impartiality of humanitarian
workers” cannot be compromised by the UN. Then, by referring to
security and the “duty of care,” she compromised it. Sudan, for
example, tells the UN it cannot guarantee its safety, a code word
for: don't go.
local authorities in West Darfur have come up with a strategy of
“persona non grata by another name,” saying that UNHCR and FAO
officials in Darfur are not safe and should leave.
What does Ms. Amos
think of these government announcements?
UN's Ban and Ms. Amos, access and Darfur starvation data not yet shown
Does she believe that the
UNHCR officials have a right to distribute rape detection equipment?
That FAO can circulate petitions against hunger? These are the
grounds on which the UN officials were told they are not safe and
should leave. What will Ms. Amos do? Watch this site.
* * *
Admits Limits on Peacekeepers, Gambari Summoned, Change Pledged
Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive
-- In Darfur a week ago, UN Peacekeepers refused
a request by the relatives of those killed and injured by janjaweed
in the Tabarat Market to go to the location and try to protect those
an internal document
of the joint UN-African Union Mission in Darfur, UNAMID, which said
that approval had to be sought before the peacekeepers could go even
to a site where injured people were dying.
General Ban Ki-moon held a brief media availability on September 9,
and Inner City Press asked him about the Tarabat Market killings, the
restrictions on movement on UNAMID, and the failure of the other UN
Mission in Sudan, UNMIS, to view the body of killed Darfuri student
Mohamed Musa when they were told of his death on February 12 of this
acknowledged problems in obtaining the “support” of the Sudanese
government, and said that he summoned UNAMID chief Ibrahim Gambari to
his recent retreat in Austria to discuss these and other problems. The
Justice and Equality Movement rebels in Darfur have demanded
Gambari's resignation for failure to protect civilians.
surprising to some, to characterize the UN's decision to await
approvals before endeavoring to protect civilians as a problem of
“administrative support” from the Sudanese authorities misses the
dollars are being spent on each mission, UNAMID and
UNMIS. They have armed peacekeepers, armored personnel carriers, and
helicopters which they have allowed Sudan to block them from using.
the status of forces agreements the UN has with
Sudan, it is unclear why the UN -- or mission chiefs Gambari and
Haile Menkerios -- accept the restrictions.
went to the
inauguration of Omar Al Bashir, indicted by the International
Criminal Court for war crimes and genocide. Menkerios, the UN has
admitted to Inner City Press, simply wants to return to New York in a
year's time. He rarely speaks to the press in Sudan. He doesn't want
to rock the boat.
transcript of Inner City Press' questions and Mr. Ban's responses,
turns out that, despite the protection of civilians
mandate of UNAMID, that in several recent instances, peacekeepers
have been telling relatives of victims that they need to get approval
before they can leave their bases to go out. Most recently it was at
the Tabarat market in Jebel Marra. They told them that they had to
get approval before they could go. By the time they went, some people
who had been injured were in fact dead. So what I am wondering is,
what is the policy of the UN in terms of seeking approval from the
Government? There is also a case in Khartoum in which a dead Darfuri
student that was allegedly tortured, UNMIS (UN Mission in Sudan) was
unable to get access to his body until it was too late. So, what is
the policy of the UN in terms of its freedom of movement to protect
civilians in Sudan?
some cases it is true that there was some difficulty
in getting smooth administrative support from the Government of
Sudan. That has been the subject of continuous consultation with the
Sudanese Government. During my visit to Austria last week I called in
Mr. [Ibrahim] Gambari to Vienna, and I got a briefing on the
situation and how we can ensure a smoother and more effective
coordination and support from the Sudanese Government. We are aware
of such problems and we will continue to improve the situation.
it violate the Status of Forces Agreement, that the
UN hasn’t been to parts of Jebel Marra since February? That is what
John Holmes said before he left, that there are whole regions of
Darfur they haven’t been able to reach.
is a Status of [Forces] Agreement, of course. They
should be faithful to provide the necessary support and cooperation. In
reality, when we are not able to get such support, it really
constrains the movement of our people and peacekeepers. We will do
our best to improve this situation.
UN's Ban and Bashir shake hands, protection of civilians not shown
document obtained by Inner City Press:
about 1800hrs on 02 Sep 2010, UNAMID Police Advisors received
unconfirmed information from locals in Tawilla IDP camp that
unidentified armed men attacked Tabarat Market near Maral village
about 28kms southwest of Tawilla, where about 30 people were killed
and more than 70 others were injured.
information was received by the PF Force Commander Major Aimable
Rukondo from relatives of victims in Tawilla IDP camp. At about
2030hrs, people from the Tawilla IDP camp gathered near the gate of
Tawilla UNAMID Base requesting for assistance to evacuate their
relatives who were in Tabarat market. The PF Commander together with
the Acting Team Site Commander advised the relatives that prior
approval from El Fasher Headquarters is needed before proceeding to
the place and with that they were advised to be back to Tawilla Base
tomorrow morning for possible medical evacuation movement to Tabarat
market once it has been approved by the higher Headquarters.”
transcript of its September 7 noon briefing; the September 8 is
also, and I’m sure African Union-United
Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) is aware of this, reports
that UNAMID said they confirmed some of, of up to 37 people killed in
a village, in a market — Tabarat Market near the town of Tawilla —
that said that the United Nations peacekeepers were told of the
attack and said that they could not go to pick up even the wounded
until they got approval from Al-Fasher. What I want to know is
whether, how long it took them to respond and whether this approval
included approval from the Government in Khartoum and if so, whether
if any of the people expired there of their injuries might have been
saved had the United Nations actually gone to protect civilians?
of all, this process of approval is a standard
procedural process. But in terms of the details, on 4 September a
UNAMID patrol gained access to the Tabarat area. It observed that
Tabarat was practically deserted and reported the presence of
Government police in the area. Today, 7 September, a UNAMID mission
travelled to Tawilla to further assess the impact of the violence.
UNAMID has made efforts to assist in evacuating some of the injured
victims by air to Al-Fasher. In terms of our estimated casualties,
the Tabarat incident left more that 50 people dead and a large number
to my understanding there’s a Peacekeeping
unit there… that there are peacekeepers stationed there. Is that
true? So did UNAMID sort of buttress its presence there and why
weren’t those people able to go after they were told by relatives
of those injured that this attack had taken place in the market?
I have some further details for you for afterwards, but
basically in terms of the ability to gain access, as soon as we
gained access, that was on the 4 September, a UNAMID patrol did go
into the area. The difficulty is in dealing with access to areas on
one last… that means that… somebody there gave
me a copy of a United Nations document showing that the relatives of
the deceased or the injured had approached the UN peacekeepers of
Tawilla and were told “we can’t go there tonight. We have to
come back tomorrow because we need approval from Al-Fasher.” And
I’m just wondering, how does the approval process work? Is it as
simple as calling UNAMID in Al-Fashir and they say yes you can go
out, or does it involve reaching the Government if their offices are
closed or not and how does it…
from case to case, but ultimately it depends on dealing
with authority on the ground to make sure that approval is in place
for our deployment.