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Amid Death in Darfur, UN Silent, Awaiting Permission 15 Miles from Killing

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 4 -- Do the restrictions on movement the Sudanese authorities impose on the UN conflict with the UN's mandate to protect civilians in Darfur?

With reports of over 50 killed by janjaweed in the predominantly Fur village of Tabra in North Darfur, and 10 more dead in the camps of West Darfur, the UN with its two billion dollar peacekeeping missions in Sudan has yet to say anything.

On the morning of September 4, Inner City Press sought comment and confirmation from the joint UN - African Union mission in Darfur, UNAMID, from the spokesperson for UNAMID chief Ibrahim Gambari and from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's two top spokespeople.

More than three hours later, the only response was from the spokesman traveling with Ban in Austria, who replied that they are aware of the media reports. There are UN peacekeepers in Tawilla, a mere 15 miles away from Tabra.

But sources tell Inner City Press that the peacekeepers in Tawilla before even trying to reach the site of the killing waited for orders from Gambari's office in Al Fashir, which had to seek permission from the Sudanese authorities.

Peacekeeper in UN base in Darfur, permission and protetion of civilians not shown

Twenty miles separated the UN peacekeepers in the Congo from the villages where 240 rapes took place earlier this month. Now, 15 miles separate UN peacekeepers from the site of 58 killings in Darfur, but response is delayed seeking permission. Some protection of civilians.

Here are some of the questions Inner City Press has pose to the UN:

Has UNAMID yet gained access to the site of the mass killing in North Darfur? If not, why not, and how is this consistent with the Mission's protection of civilians mandate?

What is the UN's estimate of casualties? Who's responsible? What will UNAMID be doing?"

Is there any comment from Garbari, the S-G, or Spokesman for the S-G? What about the delayed malnutrition information about Darfur?

Watch this site.

* * *

At UN, Darfur and Kalma Camp Belatedly Discussed, No Rice, No Understanding? Elements to the Press Expected, Not on Relocation

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 23 -- After weeks of starvation of the Kalma Camp in Darfur, the Security Council took up the matter for a second time on Monday morning. Weeks ago, Alain Le Roy of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations was charged with coming to a “full understanding of the facts” of violence in the Kalma Camp.

But no understanding of any kind, much less a full one, has yet been announced. Nor, it seems, has either the UK or US sufficiently planned for an outcome of the Monday meeting. A non Permanent Five member's spokesperson, on the way into the meeting, said that informal polling showed a lack of support for even “elements to the press.”

US Permanent Representative Susan Rice was noticeably absent -- or AWOL -- while Sudan's new Permanent Representative worked the crowd. He promised to do a stakeout Q&A about not only the Kalma Camp, which South Darfur authorities now seek to close down and split in two, but also about “the new strategy.” This refers to Khartoum looking away from the so called Doha process, which neither the JEM nor Abdul Wahid faction rebels are taking part in.

For the briefing on Kalma Camp, outgoing humanitarian chief John Holmes and DPKO's deputy Atul Khare walked into the Council. DPKO's spokesman told Inner City Press that UN Spokesman Martin Nesirky had been given a written update on Kalma before the August 20 noon briefing. But Nesirky did not read out the update, apparently only willing to do so in response to a question.

Khare in the Council, Susan Rice, UN update and understanding not shown

With his announced regime of limiting questions, this becomes more problematic -- and emblematic, too, the UN Secretariat's seeming cover up of civilian suffering. Watch this space.

Update of 11:30 a.m. -- Not only Sudan's new Permanent Representative, but now the UN's Atul Khare as well, will be doing stake outs.

Update of 11:56 A.M. -- Inner City Press asked Sudan's Perm Rep six questions and will write them up later. Sources tell Inner City Press there WILL be an "elements to the press" after the meeting, calling for humanitarian access, supporting UNAMID. But nothing on the relocation of the Kalma camp.

* * *

In Darfur as Kalma Camp Faces Closure and IDP Sorting, UN Spokesman & DPKO Silent, OCHA in Sudan Concerned

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 22 -- In South Darfur the Kalma Camp, which the Sudanese government blockaded and starved for two weeks with surprising little said by the UN, is now slated to be closed, officials said over the weekend.

  The remaining residents, estimated by the UN at 50,000, will be separated into two camps in Bileel. Some wonder from past practices if the governmental sorting will be along political or ethnic lines, presaging further blockages and attacks on internally displaced persons.

On August 20, Inner City Press asked the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations for its update on the Kalma Camp. DPKO said it had provided an update that day, and every recent day, to UN spokesman Martin Nesirky for his noon press briefing.

  But Nesirky has decided to only provide the Darfur information if he allows a question on the topic; later on August 20 he chided Inner City Press to not tell him about rules or asking questions. “It is my briefing,” he said.

  Contacted again on August 22, DPKO still did not provide the update it gave Nesirky on August 20, but said it would do so on August 23.

Thus Inner City Press reached out to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs spokesman in Sudan, Samuel Hendricks, who provided the following update:

Subject: Re: Press request re Kalma Camp
From: Samuel Hendricks at
To: Inner City Press
Date: Sun, Aug 22, 2010 at 2:31 PM

Mr. Lee,

Thanks for your message. Latest info on Kalma as follows... Estimate of current camp population thus remains around 50,000; location of many Kalma residents remains unconfirmed... Motorized water pumps are functioning; fuel shipment will be needed in coming days, NGO will seek permission to transport.

Food distribution in neighboring Bileil camp for Kalma IDPs still awaiting provision of list from camp leaders (sheikhs); distribution contingent on proof of Kalma residence (ie, ration cards).

Regarding the issue of closure/movement of Kalma camp: Local media has reported Gov't identifying new site for Kalma IDPs. Humanitarian Team (UN and NGOs) in South Darfur will meet to discuss issue of proposed new site, as there are various implications. The UN cannot support any movement of IDPs that is not voluntary or otherwise appropriate.

Kids in Darfur between two UN vehicles, "don't tell me about rules"

 Until such a time as a suitable location and facilities are established, and decision reached on movements in full consultation with IDP community of the camp, IDPs in Kalma camp should continue to have access to humanitarian assistance as required.

  But will this statement of UN principle be implemented by DPKO and envoy Ibrahim Gambari? The government is already claiming that the NGOs have approved the new sites, and the sorting process.

  IDPs continue to insist that Gambari threatened to turn six of them over to Sudanese authorities if they did not agree to government patrols of the camps. The UN denies this. We'll see. Watch this site.

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

* * *

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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