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In S. Sudan, Ban Will Meet Kiir, Nothing on Machar or Press Crackdown

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 24 -- In the UN's continued withholding of news and answers about South Sudan, the reports of the UN's own knowledge of abuses are now being withheld from its own impacted national staff.  So Inner City Press has published below multiple leaked documents from inside UNMISS.

  Amid or because of this reporting on what the UN knows but doesn't say, on February 19 at the demand of UN Under Secretary General for Public Information Cristina Gallach, Inner City Press was thrown out of the UN. Audio here. Its UN Pass has been confiscated and its files seized. Questions sent to Gallach and Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric have still  not been answered.

 The UN in South Sudan announced on February 24:

"The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will visit Juba, South Sudan tomorrow, Thursday 25 February 2016.
The Head of the UN will meet with the President of the Republic of South Sudan, H.E. Salva Kiir Mayardit.
He will further hold discussions with the protection of civilians’ site representatives to seek their views first hand. He will also meet with the NGOs in charge of managing the site.
While in Juba, the Secretary-General will receive members of the diplomatic corps and representatives of UN Funds, Agencies and Programs, and address UN staff and peacekeepers.
The visit will be concluded by a press conference to take place at 17:45 at the Presidential Lounge at Juba’s airport. "

 No mention of Riek Machar, much less of Ban's own media crackdown (petition here.)

 In South Sudan, UNESCO "welcomed the establishment of an autonomous Media Regulatory Authority in South Sudan, to oversee the media industry in terms of regulation, media development and issuance of broadcasting licenses. This is expected to contribute to a vibrant, independent and pluralistic media in South Sudan, by curbing the increased rate of incidents affecting journalists, end impunity on crimes against journalists as well as create an enabling environment for the media to operate in."

  Inner City Press and the Free UN Coalition for Access it co-founded have repeatedly asked the UN about attacks on journalists in South Sudan (and also in UN Headquarters), often without response.

  (Here is an email to Gallach that was never answered:

"On February 27 [2015], Inner City Press on behalf of the Free UN Coalition for Access asked Spokesman Stephane Dujarric about the case of journalist Mushfiqul Fazal and Video here. While vague assurances were offered, there was no clear guidance that countries (or others) cannot seek to get journalists dis-accredited from the UN (which has happened before, leading to the formation of FUNCA, see below). Nor has the Spokesperson's Office responded on the new issue of Internet censorship and danger to the journalist's family. Hence this e-mail, and request for your action on the case of Mushfiqul Fazal and

We understand that you only began earlier this month, but you should be aware that your predecessor Peter Launsky communicated regularly with FUNCA on press freedom issues. Due to actions taken by the UN Correspondents Association's Executive Committee in 2012, including UNCA secretly meeting with UN officials and seeking to expel investigative media (see documents obtained under the US Freedom of Information Act here and here and here and here), I and another elected board member quit and co-founded FUNCA.

FUNCA stands for the defense of journalists, and for fair treatment of all journalists. We do not believe the UN should partner with a group that has sought to get journalists expelled from the UN; we are opposed to first quesitons at press conferences or stake-outs being set aside for such a group. We are for a more than one-party system. We are for fair treatment.

Unlike what UNCA has recently said, we are opposed to the UN being able to search the lockers or other belongings of the journalists who cover it; Luiz is particularly opposed to the idea of using UN identification card swipe information to track the movement of journalists, against which he says assurances were given when the swipe system was implemented.

On all of that you will hear more from us. But for right now, we are writing to ask you to take action on this case of a UN accredited journalist having his media blocked in his home country, and that you make clear that states or others cannot lobby your DPI to try to get journalists asked critical questions expelled, or threaten them in any way.

We will appreciate your written response, thank you."

  This email was received but never answered; no contact until the order on February 19 to clear out in two hours. There is no UN appeals process, and Gallach never asked Inner City Press for its side of the story before ordering it out.

  So the UN's treatment of the independent press inside UN Headquarters does not meet the standards UNESCO is welcoming in South Sudan.

  UNESCO chief Irina Bokova, who wants to succeed Ban Ki-moon as Secretary General, will be in UNHQ in New York on Monday, February 21. Inner City Press, its resident correspondents badge torn off by UN Security, apparently will not.

 But what does UNESCO's Bokova think of the Press being thrown out of the UN on two hours notice for a principled disagreement on journalists' rights to cover events inside the UN Press Briefing Room? The question has been publicly asked, here, and publicly seconded. Watch this site.

  In South Sudan beyond the UN's shameful failure to search for weapons and then to protect in its Malakal "Protection of Civilians" camp, and attempt to cover up the SPLA's shooting and looting in the camp, now the problems have spread to or re-appeared in Wau.

 On UNMISS' failure to search for weapons, entirely ignored or covered up at the UN Security Council on February 19, here is a first-hand account exclusively provided to Inner City Press:

"“Peacekeepers were given info 2 days ago as was info passed out raising concerns. IDPs (Shilluk and Nuer elders raised this direct with UNMISS at the time of being aware of info. UN sat on it until first incident erupted. That came about as Padiang dinka 'IDP' walked passed UN contracted gate guards (Warrior Security I think) with significant volume of ammunition for weapons and was stopped by Shilluk IDPs. Fight broke out, Padiang dinka killed and ammunition given to UN.
According to the information  obtained from the camp, this problem started day before yesterday when UNMISS Protection Security Officers received sufficient security report that Dinka Internally Displaced Persons staying in Malakal UNMISS Protection Camp received illegal weapons smuggled from main town center into IDPs camp by their tribe security agents controlling the town since first week of July 2015 when SPLA- IO withdrew tactically from Malakal town. UNMISS protection soldiers wanted to conduct the search for illegal weapons smuggled inside the protection camp but Dinka Internally Displaced Persons refused to allow UNMISS Security to conduct the search for weapons then the attack happened last night at 8:00pm.”

 Here is another internal email exclusively leaked to and published by Inner City Press, with names redacted for obvious reasons:

"From FAO Wau
From Wau: Subject: Serious Security Situation in Wau
Dear XXX
I hereby wish inform you about a serious security situation we are currently experiencing in Wau since yesterday evening.
Indeed security has been recently shaky in Wau and vicinity, but yesterday it worsened to the extent that many of our staff members had to seek for a refuge at night at the UNMISS compound.
Since this morning, all the vehicles are grounded at the office, as no driver could move and there is no authorization for any vehicle to move out of the UNMISS compound.
We are in contact with the FSCO, although no information has been circulated so far. With regards, XXXX”"

UN's South Sudan Report, Sept 2015, Leaked to Inner City Press by Matthew Russell Lee

  The full document we have put online here. A quote:

In March 2014, a labelling error was discovered whilst transporting containers loaded with duty equipment for the UN Ghanaian peacekeepers in Unity State which brought strained relations to even a lower point. The error was exploited to galvanise hostility towards the UN in favour of the government by falsely presenting the UN as supplying weaponry to the opposition. It took elaborate interventions, investigations
and communications to clear the false impression that this created.

[ICP note: the same type of "labeling" or "clerical" error occure this months with weapons headed to MONUSCO. This is what UN Peacekeeping has become under Herve Ladous, who linked peacekeepers' rapes to "R&R, here.]

We'll have more on this.


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