Says It Probes New Darfur Attack, Silence from Council on Sudan Press
By Matthew Russell Lee
November 3 -- With the UN speaking less and less on human
rights, the UNAMID peacekeeping mission in Darfur has provided fewer
and fewer reports about casualties
of fighting in the area, about
arrests and crackdowns on media.
Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman
Martin Nesirky why UNAMID had nothing to say about days old reports
of a new attack on civilians in Tawila, leading to at least 18
casualties being taken to the hospital in El Fasher, UNAMID's
hours later, Nesirky's office confirmed, only over the loudspeaker
system in the UN press floor and not anywhere in writing, that UNAMID
is “aware of reports” of
the attack on Tawila and “is investigating them... there have been
other incidents recently.”
most of these
incidents, UNAMID has had no comment on. Many observers opine that
UNAMID's silence emboldens the government and its proxies to step up
their attacks on civilians in Darfur.
UN has still
not spoken on arrests by the Sudanese authorities in the Darfur IDP
camps, both Abu Shouk where the UN Security Council visited, and now
in Al Salaam in North Darfur, about which Inner City Press asked on
questions directed to Nesirky's office on
about UNAMID's selective reporting -- and not just
Humanitarian Coordinator Georg Charpentier's -- and about UN
conflicts of interest and UNAMID chief Ibrahim Gambari's mode of
transport have still not been answered.
IDPs in Tawila, protection of civilians not shown
Council stakeout earlier on November 3, Inner City Press asked this
month's Council president Mark Lyall Grant of the UK, the lead
country on Darfur, if the Council planned any meeting, discussion or
action on the Government's radio station closure. On November 2, the
Department's spokesman PJ Crowley, then Ambassador
Susan Rice, spoke
on the topic.
Rice entered the Council Wednesday morning for a Council meeting about
Ivory Coast, Inner City Press asked if the US would be asking for
Security Council action on this issue.
Grant later on Wednesday, after the meeting, told Inner City Press that
“as President of the Security Council, there are no plans to
discuss the issue specifically” although he said Sudan is “the
centerpiece of the British presidency” of the Council. He added
that in his national capacity, the UK regrets any restriction on free
press, especially at this “sensitive time.” Video here,
from Minute 3:04.
other hand, had as the UN had nearly nothing to say about Darfur, or
even the wider Sudan. Watch this site.
transcript of Tuesday, November 2:
Does the UN have any comment on these arrests of Darfur
human rights activists, both in Khartoum and in Darfur, the closing
of a radio station, and can it confirm that Georg Charpentier has
said that there should be none but an essential monitoring mission
sent out from now until February, as some in Darfur are saying?
Nesirky: On the last question, we’ll check. On the first,
likewise on the middle one about the radio station, we are aware of
those reports about the closing down of the radio station and the
reported arrests of some journalists. Clearly, we would urge the
authorities to ensure that journalists can carry out their work
Press: Human Rights Watch did a report on these arrests and the
activists, saying they note that UNAMID [African Union-United Nations
Hybrid Operation in Darfur] doesn’t report on human rights
conditions, and that Charpentier hasn’t put out a report on this
since November 2009. Why did the UN stop reporting on these topics
at this important time?
Well, you asked Ms. [Valerie] Amos that, and I think that she gave
you an answer. I don’t have anything to add to what she said last
time. Maybe there will be an update at some point from the Office
for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, but I don’t have that
at the moment.
Press: Sorry, I’m sorry…
Yes, there are other people who have questions.
Press: I understand, but the difficulty is that if we start at
12:15, it becomes tricky. But the human rights and the humanitarian
reporting are two separate issues. The humanitarian, I understand
that it’s a joint thing with the Government, but the human rights
reporting is something that just seems to have ceased, and some are
now saying that there’s a Joint Monitoring Assessment Centre [JMAC]
that in fact has reports of civilian deaths and doesn’t report them
to the public. Somehow they leak out to some, but… I guess I
wanted to ask you… it’s two separate things.
Let me find out, Matthew. Let me find out.
November 3 transcript:
Press: on Sudan, I wanted to ask you two factual things. There
are reports that at least eight people injured in Tawilla, where
there is a peacekeeping base, have been taken to the hospital in El
Fasher. I haven’t seen anything by UNAMID [African Union-United
Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur]; I’m just wondering if it’s
possible to get… whether UNAMID can confirm that this attack took
place, who they think did it? There are also reports of the arrest
of the leader of a refugee camp, Al Salaam in North Darfur, by the
authorities. And I’m wondering, again … these things build up,
but whether UNAMID can confirm these two incidents, and also, if
these things are true, why these things are not being said in some
way by UNAMID? And I know you may say “ask them”, but I’ve
asked them and I’ve received nothing in return.
We will ask them. All right, thanks very much. Good
later added that we are aware of these reports and are
investigating them. UNAMID is concerned about heightened military
tensions on the ground. There have been other incidents recently.
UNAMID calls on all parties to refrain from the use of force.]