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UN Inaction in Jonglei & Abyei, Double Standards on Sudans, Rebels & Media Access

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 23 -- In the war of separation between Sudan and South Sudan, millions died, and tensions remain.

  Yet when the two countries ambassador emerged from the UN Security Council to speak to the media on Friday, only two correspondents asked them questions. And both offered answers at the stakeout, unlike what happened at the higher-profile Syria chemical weapons session on August 21. Video here and embedded below.

  Inner City Press asked South Sudan's representative about taking sides in the conflict between the Murle and Lou Nuer in Jonglei state, and what ever happened with the investigation the UN promised back in May into the killing of the Paramount Chief in Abyei.

  On the latter he replied that there was nothing to report. We note that UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous, now away on a long vacation, refused even while in New York to answer Press questions about the killings.

  To the side of the stakeout Sudan's Permanent Representative Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman indicated that he would not be coming to the microphone to speak. After Inner City Press asked South Sudan about the referendum in Abyei, and the flow of South Sudan oil through Sudan, he did in fact come to the microphone.

  He was critical of the proposals of some "equating" the rebels and government on the issue of humanitarian access to Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states. (Inner City Press asked August's Council president, Argentina's Permanent Representative Perceval, about the fought over difference on aid between the adopted "to expedite" and the rejected "to allow;" she did not answer on camera but later joked about the "philosophical" question.)

  In further philosophy or lack thereof, the loudest Security Council members adopt entirely different approaches to government, rebels and outside supporters in Syria and in, say, Sudan, or the Democratic Republic of Congo. But more on that to come. For now we simply note, on another double standard, that Inner City Press coined a word while waiting at the stakeout with an eye on Egypt: "Cou-volution."

  Inner City Press asked Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman about the peacekeeping "catering" helicopter and crew taken hostage in early August by the Minnawi rebels in Darfur. "That is a UNAMID helicopter," he replied, "you should ask them."

  But the UN refuses to answer, beyond an "If-Asked" they would have been prepared to read out on August 5 if anyone had asked. They read it out only later, after Inner City Press inquired. Why is the UN staying quiet about an attack in one place, while declaring that any attack on its brigade in Eastern Congo would be a war crimes, even if the Brigade shoots first?

  There are other contradictions. This week US President Barack Obama and other Western leaders are demanding a UN investigation of chemical weapons in Syria. But look at the UN -- it hasn't finished the Abyei killing investigation it promised in May.

  And there are double standards in the UN itself. Last time Sudan and Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman were at the stakeout they witnessed one of Ladsous' spokespeople demanding that the first question, which UNAMID's chief was directing to Inner City Press, instead go to Agence France Presse, on one of whose management board Ladsous used to serve.

  On August 23 after the Security Council meeting on Sudan and South Sudan, Inner City Press was greeted by one of the concerned diplomats and told to come speak with him at the entrance of the so called Turkish Lounge.

  Inner City Press was conversing with the diplomat when UN Security ordered Inner City Press back into the penned-in stakeout. This is supposedly not the rule; the rule according to the Department of Public Information has supposedly not changed. The Free UN Coalition for Access put the question to UN DPI official Stephane Dujarric and the Media Accreditation unit he supervises.

  Moments later, when a former and a current Reuters reporter both went to talk outside the pen with the UK Deputy Permanent Representative, UN Security said nothing. Double standards, much?

  In fairness we praised DPI earlier today, for a briefing by UN Security chief Kevin Kennedy. But clearly DPI needs to explain its (new?) rules, to all reporters at the UN and to UN Security. And double standards, and further reductions, will be opposed by the Free UN Coalition for Access @FUNCA_info. Watch this site.


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