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As Former Somali Diplomat Is Barred from Mission to UN, Is UNICEF Barred by TFG? WFP Withholds MOU with IOC

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 15 -- As the UN World Food Program continues to withhold its Somalia Memorandum of Understanding with the Organization of the Islamic Conference, even from other UN officials, a once and perhaps future Somali diplomat has reportedly reappeared at the country's Mission to the UN and had the police called on him.

   Idd Beddel Mohamed, who Inner City Press interviewed in 2007 as Deputy Permanent Representative denounced UN payments to warlords, recently came back to the Somali Mission, according to sources, saying that the new Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Oomar had authorized him to enter.

  But the current Permanent Representative said he'd heard no such thing, the sources say, the police were called to oust Idd Beddel Mohamed.

  Meanwhile, after both Mark Bowden, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia and Ms. Kiki Gbeho, Head of the Somalia Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs told Inner City Press they had not even seen WFP's agreement with the OIC, on December 14 Inner City Press asked OCHA chief Valerie Amos about it.

Ms. Amos answered that OCHA can't compel any UN system agency to “coordinate” with it.  Video here.

Idd Beddel Mohamed previously at UN, ejection from Mission not shown

  On December 15, Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Martin Nesirky if Secretary General Ban Ki-moon thought that UN system agencies should reach and withhold secret deals. Nesirky said he had nothing to add to what Mr. Bowden and Ms. Gbeho had said.

A WFP spokesperson has emailed offering to talk about the MOU and has been asked to provide a copy. He replied "I can't email the MOU to you." Watch this site.

Footnote: at the December 15 noon briefing, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Nesirky about reports that the Somali Transitional Federal Government has ordered UNICEF and other UN agencies to stop their work in Somalia, for missing a meeting about the drought.

  Previously, Inner City Press asked UNICEF's spokesman, but he is out of the office for a long time (question have been backing up for the past two weeks). Nesirky said that events have moved on and that the Somali block is not (any longer?) in place. We'll see.

* * *

On Somalia, UN Looks Away from Mercenaries & Funder, Withholds MOU

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 13 -- As not only Puntland but the Transitional Federal Government in Mogadishu move to use mercenaries, the UN is in denial even as its Security Council's sanctions regime is being violated.

On December 6 Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Martin Nesirky:

Inner City Press: there is a former US official, Pierre Prosper, who has said that Puntland, the portion of Somalia, has hired a private military contractor, Saracen, to do anti-piracy work — that it’s being all funded by a Muslim nation that he wouldn’t name. So what I wonder is whether, given Mr. [Augustine] Mahiga or anyone in the UN, given both the prohibitions against mercenaries and also the 1992 sanctions on Somalia, what does the UN say to Puntland pretty openly, or at least as acknowledged by a former US official, hiring a mercenary firm to patrol the coast of Somalia, and what’s the UN going to do in light of this report?

Spokesperson Nesirky: Well, thanks for the question, Matthew, and let’s see what we can find out. I don’t have anything at the moment.

A full week later, the UN Spokesperson's Office has not provided any information. But on December 10, Inner City Press asked the UN's Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia Mark Bowden about mercenaries. Despite reports that the TFG is moving forward, Bowden said that there's been a step back. Video here, from Minute 13:55.

Inner City Press asked if the UN knows the identify of the country funding the mercenaries. Bowden did not answer, but said that the funder should contact the UN Somalia Monitoring Group, or they might be in violation of the sanctions. But the country has indicated it will not identify itself, ostensibly to not suffer attacks. Is there a loophole in the sanctions regime for this?

UN's Bowden on Dec. 10, mercenaries and MOU not shown

  On the UN World Food Program's confidential Memorandum of Understanding with the OIC, Inner City Press asked what it says about paying to deliver service.

  Ms. Kiki Gbeho, Head of the Somalia Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs replied that she “hopes” it has prohibitions, adding that the UN “in principle does not pay to deliver... perhaps it has happened, but it is the policy not to pay.”

But neither she nor Bowden have seen the WFP agreement. What does it mean, then, to be a UN Humanitarian “Coordinator” or OCHA Head of Country office? What is WFP doing? Watch this site.

 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.

* * *

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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