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On W. Sahara, UN “Has No Firsthand Knowledge,” Used YouTube to Report

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 12 -- With the death count in the camps in Western Sahara unclear, and the UN's Department of Peacekeeping Operations scheduled to give a report to a closed door session of the UN Security Council on November 16, Inner City Press on November 12 asked UN acting Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq what the UN knows about the deaths, on a Spanish national and others, and the barring of foreign media.

  Haq said the UN “has no first hand information,” and that this had been “made clear when we made the statement on Monday.” Video here, from Minute 28:41.

  Inner City Press asked what the UN's MINURSO peacekeeping mission has been doing. In October, the UN and Security Council were told of the impending attacks on the camp by Moroccan forces. Did MINURSO do nothing, not only to prevent, but even to observe the carnage?

The burning camp, MINURSO not seen

   In fact, Inner City Press is told by sources in the UN Department of Political Affairs that on Monday, November 8 they were watching YouTube videos of events, just before that day's noon press briefing, in order to figure out what statement to issue.

Now, sources in Rabat, Morocco tell Inner City Press of a European Union diplomat there bragging about access to MINURSO's report to be delivered (or read from) on Tuesday, saying that it takes Morocco's side. Watch this site.

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On WSahara, As UN Council Weighs Early Briefing on Morocco Violence, France Claims Not Political, Ross Without Agenda

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 10 -- As Morocco has attacked demonstrators' camps in Western Sahara, the Security Council has been silent. On November 9 in a closed door session, non Permanent Council member Mexico finally made a push for a briefing on the violence. (Click here for note by Inner City Press.)

   This month's Council president, Mark Lyall Grant of the UK, was charged with asking UN envoy Christopher Ross if he would brief the Council now on the current violence, or wait until the previously scheduled November 23 session. This morning Lyall Grant is to report back to Council members, again in a closed session, on what Ross prefers.

  Inner City Press asked a concerned Permanent Representative on the morning of November 10 when the Western Sahara briefing would be.

  “Late this week or early next,” the Permanent Representative replied. But this was before Lyall Grant's slated report-back to the Council. Major Morocco supporter France may have something to say about the timing.

  Inner City Press asked French Ambassador Gerard Araud when the briefing on Western Sahara and the violence would be. Araud said with the talks in Greentree ending, Ross was being asked if he wanted to come to the Council earlier than November 23.

  Araud said that next week is busy for the Council, with a debate on Sudan on Tuesday, November 16, a day off for Eid on November 17, and a retreat with new Council members (including South Africa, which on Western Sahara stands on the opposite side from France). Araud called it a matter of “agenda, not politics.”

Christopher Ross, agenda and briefing not shown

  Afterward another Council source told Inner City Press that Lyall Grant will be calling Ross for the second time on this afternoon of November 10. The first time, he said skeptically, Ross “did not have his agenda” or schedule with him. Now Ross will be asked if he can come brief the Council on Friday November 12 or Tuesday November 16, after the Sudan debate. Watch this site.

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  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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Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

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