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March 1, 2011: Libya

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At UN on Sudan, Darfur in Darkness, Kordofan Report Delayed, Will Pillay Explain?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 12 -- At the UN less and less is done about Sudan, on government abuses in Darfur and Southern Kordofan, regarding which the UN is withholding a damning human right report, which criticizes UN inaction, for well more than a week now.

  Three week ago UN official Ivan Simonovic told the Press that the report, an advance copy of which Inner City Press had already put online, would be released in two weeks. Now it still has not been, but the UN will not explain and instead seeks to further limit questions from the press.

  Simonovic's boss Navi Pillay will brief the Security Council on August 18, along with top UN humanitarian Valerie Amos; the topic as bragged about by the French mission will by Syria, with nothing on Sudan.

   The withheld report, as "leaked," says that UN peacekeepers then under the ultimate control of now departed DPKO chief Alain Le Roy did nothing as civilians were killed. For example:

42. On 8 June, UNMIS Human Rights witnessed the movement of four armed men (two armed civilians and two Central Reserve Police) carrying weapons in and out of the UNMIS Protective Perimeter without any intervention from the UNMIS peacekeepers guarding the premises.

   With the top UN Peacekeeping post now empty at this important time, with another Frenchman, mostly likely Jerome Bonnafont, in waiting, perhaps this explains DPKO blocking-by-edits the report, and Pillay's so far limited August 18 agenda for briefing the Council.

At the UN's noon briefing on August 12, Inner City Press posed several Sudan questions to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's acting deputy spokesman Farhan Haq:

Inner City Press: Sudanese armed forces helicopters are buzzing and making hostile movements around the Zamzam refugee camp in Darfur. So I wanted to know, is that something that UNAMID [African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur] is aware of?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson Haq: We’d have to check whether it is. As is the case, some of these reports on the ground have not checked out. But we’ll check with UNAMID to see whether this is, whether this holds up.

Inner City Press: And what about the Southern Kordofan human rights report, I think Mr. Simonovic, it was three weeks ago today, was in here and said it would be released in two weeks. What’s the hold up?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson Haq: There is no hold up. It’s being finalized, and when we know for sure that it is coming out, we will certainly tell you.

  If there's no hold up, why does it take more than three weeks to "finalize" a completed report about a situation as grave as Southern Kordofan?

Ban & Pillay & Deputy Kang, withhold Kordofan report not shown

  Meanwhile in the Security Council on Southern Kordofan, the US only asked for a press statement, and according to the US Mission's statement given Friday to AP withdrew even that, blaming Russia and China. (For a UNSC Press Statement, any Council member can block it, not only the Permanent veto wielding members.)

  Now one wonders if the US, or France or UK, will at least have Pillay and Amos when they are in the Council give an update on Southern Kordofan, including the UN report that seems to be getting swept under the rug.

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Amid Conflicts in Libya, Syria, Sudan & Kosovo, Horn of Africa Famine, UN Reduces Q&A by 40%, Has "Nothing to Say"

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 12 -- As the Arab Spring turns to a bloody late summer, and according to the UN famine spreads in the Horn of Africa, UN headquarters in New York Friday confirmed it is moving to reduce its availability to the press by 40%.

  With UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon back in his native South Korea, Inner City Press on August 12 asked Ban's acting deputy spokesman Farhan Haq to explain why two of the expected five daily briefings next week, and possible the week after that, are being canceled at this time.

  Haq replied that there would be "nothing to say," and accused Inner City Press of being the only one "worried about this one way or another," claiming to have polled journalists at the UN and gotten their agreement to cancel briefings.

  Haq refused to provide any details of his polling; at a press-related event hosted by the US Mission to the UN the evening of August 11, there were a number of complaints about Ban's Spokesperson's Office refusing to even do a daily ten minute briefing, as Inner City Press had reported, despite events in the world.

  Even on the questions asked of Haq on August 11, few were answered. Inner City Press asked about the reported "buzzing" of the Zam Zam IDP camp in Darfur by Sudan's air force. Haq had no information on this, and said that "some of these reports have not checked out."

  Three weeks ago, UN official Ivan Simonovic said that the UN's human rights report about Southern Kordofan in Sudan, which includes descriptions of Egyptian UN peacekeepers doing nothing as civilians were kiled, would be formally released "in two weeks."
   Inner City Press asked Haq to explain the delay, one week and counting. Haq said it isn't delay, he'll announce when it's released.

   In the Security Council, there are countries dissatisfied by the UN's delay, and trying to get emergency meetings of the Council. The Secretariat's lackadaisical delay and Haq's statement that these weeks there's "nothing to say" sends a message: there is no emergency, or even urgency.

Any response to letters to Ban from municipal officials in Northern Kosovo? No, Haq said, the letters are being "studied."

Haq at briefing on Haiti, responses to Qs not shown: nothing to say?

  For months Ban's Spokesperson's Office claimed that a letter from the New York State AFL-CIO then a group of Congresspeople about UN attacks on the broadcast engineers' union was "being studied." On August 12, Haq confirmed Inner City Press' August 11 report that seven more engineers are being laid off, on top of 17 other posts lost, as a "cost cutting" move.

  Inner City Press asked Haq if the 40% reduction in briefings is a cost cutting move. Haq replied that it's "standard procedure."

  But what about Ban Ki-moon's repeated canned claim to be "deeply concerned" about the loss of civilian lives in a conflict in Libya in which under Security Council resolution 1973 Ban is to have a coordinating role? Because it's August (Haq said Ban's lead spokesman is out to August 29) -- and Ramadan -- will there be "nothing to say" about that?

 In fact, at least in Syria and Libya, it has been said that "every day will be protest Friday during Ramadan." Is this the time for the UN to cancel briefings and press question and answer sessions?

  Inner City Press asked, asks and will continue asking, what is the problem with devoting a ten minute briefing each week day to answering questions? Watch this site.

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

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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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