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Expelled by Sudan, UN's Freijsen Says Farewell, Muhammad Ali Quote

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, June 5 -- Just as the World Humanitarian Summit began in Turkey on May 22, Sudan de facto expelled
the Head of Office of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Ivo Freijsen. Now two weeks later, Freijsen has written his farewell letter, including a quote from Muhammad Ali, which Inner City Press exclusively publishes here:

From: Ivo Freijsen
Date: June 4, 2016 at 10:13:51 GMT+1
To:
Subject: Goodbye

Dear HCT, ISCG, and HDWG colleagues,

As most of you will be aware, my tenure in Sudan has come to an end. Through this message I want to convey my sincere thanks to you all for the collaboration in recent years.

Also during this sixth assignment in Sudan, I felt honored and permanently energized to work alongside very committed and engaged Sudanese and international colleagues as part of a collective effort to provide coordinated, principled, timely and technically-sound humanitarian assistance to populations in need. Whilst a seventh assignment does not seem likely in the near term, I will carry with me abundant amounts of unforgettable memories and experiences, at both professional and personal levels.

Jean Verheyden will serve as Officer-in-Charge at OCHA Sudan for the time being. I would like to thank you in advance for extending to him and the wider OCHA team your continued support and collaboration. Signs are that cohesion and unity within our ranks will continue to be key during the upcoming period.

As part of my wrapping up, I want to leave behind two quotes you may find interesting. They sum up well the way I think humanitarian action needs to be approached:

"Doing the right thing is never easy, but we need to continue to try" (this is what a leading humanitarian shared with me several years ago after also his mission had come to a premature end).

"He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life" (quote from the iconic anti-war hero and legendary boxing champion Muhammad Ali who sadly passed away this weekend. May his soul rest in peace).

I wish you all the very best in your ongoing and future humanitarian endeavors. Stay safe, stay well.

Ramadan Kariem, and kind regards,

Ivo

Ivo Freijsen | Head of Office |  United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) | Khartoum | Sudan

The US, Norway and UK issued this on May 27: "The members of the Troika (Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States) are appalled by the Sudanese governmentís aerial bombardment of civilians in Kauda and the Heiban area of South Kordofan, including the bombing of St Vincent Elementary School on 25 May. The Sudanese government has a responsibility to protect all its citizens. We urge all parties to end the violence and allow immediate humanitarian access to those in need. We believe that the Roadmap presented by the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel represents the way forward.

"The Troika countries are also deeply concerned by the Government of Sudanís de facto expulsion of Ivo Freijsen, the Head of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Sudan. The Government of Sudanís action contributes to the increasingly difficult environment to address humanitarian needs in Sudan. The humanitarian situation remains critical, with over 5.4 million people in need of humanitarian aid. We fully support OCHAís mandate in Sudan and call on the Government to review this latest decision, and lift restrictions on the timely delivery of humanitarian assistance to all Sudanese affected by crisis and conflict."

Inner City Press on May 26 asked International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda if she thought the UN should be inviting Omar al-Bashir; she told Inner City Press to ask the UN.

 On May 27, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's deputy spokesperson if the UN's letters to Sudan note that its President has been indicted for genocide and that the UN says he should be arrested. Apparently not.

Back on June 1 of 2015 when South Sudan expelled then-UN aid coordinator Toby Lanzer, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon sent out a mixed message. He deplored the expulsion, or declaration of persona non grata (PNG), but said he had already appointed a replacement of Lanzer.

  At least that time Ban deplored a PNG. In Sudan, while he spoke about the ouster of Ali Za'tari, he quietly replaced him later.

  In Sudan, this followed the ouster - or press release against - UNFPA representative Pam Delargy a year ago. On June 1 Inner City Press asked the head of UNFPA about Delargy's case, and he said on camera that she was NOT PNG-ed, that she had been about to leave anyway.

  Inner City Press read him UNFPA's answer from April 2014, that Sudan issued a press release that she should go. The reply was that other agency representatives were also asked to leave.

This is today's UN, a race to the bottom. UNFPA's head attended Buhari's inauguration in his native Nigeria, it is not clear in what capacity or at what cost. After Inner City Press asked such questions, USG of DPI Gallach ousted then evicted it - to give its office to Egyptian state media.

Back in late 2014, after Inner City Press received a leaked copy of Sudan UN Development Program Country Director Yvonne Helle's December 24 e-mail saying she had been ordered to leave the country, it reported it and asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric about it at the UN's noon briefing on December 24. Story here, video from UN noon briefing here.

  On December 30, after a UN Security Council consultations from which nothing came, Inner City Press on behalf of the Free UN Coalition for Access asked the UN:

"This is a request that Deputy SG Eliasson or someone else from the Secretariat hold a press availability on Sudan's decision to expel Yvonne Helle (which I asked about at the December 24 noon briefing) and Ali Al-Za'tari... I understood the DSG to say he would not be speaking afterward since it was consultations. But a media availability by the Secretariat, ideally the DSG but another if necessary, later this afternoon is being requested, including on behalf of the Free UN Coalition for Access."

   UN Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq replied in the negative:

"Regarding your request for a press availability, yes, the Deputy Secretary-General said that he would not speak at the stakeout, given that the Security Council had held consultations. The views he expressed were in keeping with what we have been saying on Sudan, including in the 25 December SG statement:

'The Secretary-General condemns the Government of Sudan's decision to expel the United Nations Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator and the Country Director of the United Nations Development Programme. The sanctioning of United Nations personnel sent to Sudan to carry out their duties in accordance with the United Nations Charter is unacceptable. The Secretary-General calls on the Government of Sudan to reverse its decision immediately and urges it to cooperate fully with all United Nations entities present in Sudan.'"

 Later on December 30, minutes before the UN Security Council was to vote on the draft Palestine resolution, the UN put this out:

Note to Correspondents Ė in response to questions on Sudan

The Secretary-Generalís strongly critical position on the expulsion from Sudan of the Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator (RC/HC) and UNDP Country Director is clear.

Departure of these key senior United Nations officials would constitute a serious loss for the humanitarian and development community in Sudan at a time when humanitarian needs are growing and the country faces significant development challenges.

The United Nations has been engaging the Government of Sudan at several levels to obtain a reversal of its decision.  It is essential that the United Nations can continue to carry out its crucial duties in the country. The Government has agreed to extend the deadline for the RC/HC's departure from 2 January until the end of the month. Discussions on this issue continue.

The United Nations remains committed to a productive and fruitful working relationship with the Government of Sudan for the benefit of its people, on the basis of respect of sovereignty. The United Nations counts on the full cooperation of the Government of Sudan in enabling all UN entities and their leadership to carry out their important work.

"  Inner City Press has asked, why was nothing said when Sudan expelled the Country Director of the UN Population Fund UNFPA in April? When Sudan this Fall chased a UN aid official out of Darfur? There have been no public explanation, but Inner City Press is compiling a picture -- call it "Profiles in Cowardice" -- from multiple sources; watch this site.

   (Inner City Press is told by sources that Sudan's Permanent Representative exchanged words with a Security Council members PR on December 30, we hope to have more on this.)

  For now we add this: when UNHCR the UN's refugee agency held a  staff planning mtg in Khartoum, Sudan's security agency NISS then refused to let the Darfur-based international staff return to their posts.

 For months they sat in Khartoum waiting, incidentally spending large amounts from UNHCR's public budget. Ultimately many of the international staff were simply moved, quietly, to other countries.

 And why didn't the UN system, the UN Security Council and its members speak at that time, and in April when UNFPA's Country Director was thrown out?

  In April 2014, Inner City Press asked UNFPA to "Please confirm or deny that in Sudan UNFPA Representative Pam Delargy was told to leave the country on April 7 and, separately, that she did leave. And anything else. Please also provide an update on Mr. Siddhart Chatterjee as UNFPA Representative in Kenya: date of commencement, what work has been done."

  UNFPA replied to Inner City Press on April 9, "The United Nations Resident Coordinator in Khartoum, Sudan was notified by the Government of Sudan that the UNFPA Representative had been requested to leave the country at a short notice. A press release by the Sudanese Government has been issued to this effect. We regret this decision and are in communication with the United Nations Country Team in Sudan to seek further clarification on this matter. We hope that we would very soon be able to continue and re-establish normal relationships with the Government of Sudan."

  Inner City Press asked this week about the UN system's silence and UNFPA replied, "UNFPA now has a new representative in Sudan, who has assumed her responsibilities three months ago. I will follow up with our Khartoum office regarding your second question."

  We'll have more on this.

 

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