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As UN Called "Immoral" on Yida in South Sudan, UN Denies, Stonewalls on Syria

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 19 -- There there's a lack of necessary services in the Yida refugee camp in South Sudan is said not only by George Clooney but by Dr. Mukesh Kapila, the UN's former top humanitarian official in Sudan.

Kapila said that the UN's "humanitarian policy led by UNHCR is to severely restrict aid going in to needy civilians in Yida, pressurizing them to move by not giving them enough food, water, and other needs." He called it "immoral, unethical and anti-humanitarian." And he should know.

Inner City Press asked UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's lead spokesman Martin Nesirky about it on March 16:

Inner City Press: Mukesh Kapila, who used to be the head aid official for Sudan, has gone public and said that the UN system is choosing to not serve refugees that are in the Yida camp in Unity State in South Sudan. These are people that fled Southern Kordofan, that they choose to remain as close to their homes as they can, but that the UN has chosen not to fund NGOs, schools and other services in that camp. Is that in fact the case, and if so, why would the UN not be serving the refugees where they want to remain?

Spokesperson Neskiry: I think we’ll start with the first part of the question and see what we can find out, Matthew. In other words, is it the case or not?

Inner City Press: He said it seems like [inaudible]

Spokesperson Nesirky: That may well be the case, Matthew, but let’s check.

Three days later, not having gotten any answer from Nesirky, Inner City Press asked his deputy, Eduardo Del Buey:

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask --

Deputy Spokesperson: One more question.

Inner City Press: Martin said he would look into this allegation by a former UN official that the UN system is not providing aid to the Yida refugee camp in South Sudan…

Deputy Spokesperson: Yes, we are exploring that, and when we have an answer we will get back to you.

Later on Monday the following arrived:

Subject: Your question on Yida refugee camp
From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply [at]
Date: Mon, Mar 19, 2012 at 3:06 PM
To: Matthew.Lee [at]

UNHCR has informed us of the following: UNHCR and partners continues to assist refugees in Yida. UNHCR has been working with various partners to provide basic life-sustaining assistance to refugees in Yida, including protection monitoring, community services and food. Moreover, UNHCR is providing funding support to one of two health clinics in Yida as well as two protection NGO partners. UNHCR has also recently completed a full registration of the refugee population which helps identify persons with specific needs and tailor protection and assistance interventions that respond to the broader needs of the refugee population.

That is, the UN and UNHCR deny entirely what the UN's own former top aid official in Sudan, among others, is saying -- without even directly addressing what the official has said.

This while the current UN of Ban Ki-moon is relying almost entirely on former and retired UN officials of the Kofi Annan era to try to mediate in Syria: Nicholas Michel, Jean Marie Guehenno, Alan Doss, Lamine Cisse. Inner City Press asked Nesirky on March 16:

Inner City Press: is this now the time that you can say who is working with Kofi Annan on his team? Is it possible to say if Mr. Guéhenno is a deputy, if Nasser Al-Kidwa will be going Sunday and what the UN role will be in this technical negotiation team.

Spokesperson: If I have anything Matthew, I’ll let you know on that. The most important thing is that they have a job to do and, as you heard Mr. Annan say just a few moments ago, which was why I delayed the start of the briefing, that team is scheduled to go in as a technical team to continue those discussions that the Joint Special Envoy mentioned.

Inner City Press: I have tried to get the names, so I just want to ask you for a comment on this. Some are saying that because Kofi Annan’s team, at least visually as seen on television, not as provided by your Office, consists of so many former UN officials, many retired officials like Alan Doss, Guéhenno, Nicolas Michel, that somehow it either shows a kind of a lack of a new generation of UN people, or somehow reflects strangely on the current UN, that in fact all these retired UN former people have to be called in. What would be your response to that?

Spokesperson: None whatsoever at this point, Matthew.

And there has been no response in the three days since. Watch this site.

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