Empty UN, Four Yankees Shine Light on Sierra Leone and Refugee, GM
Cashman on Sox, Rays and AL Headaches
August 18 -- It was a slow August day at the UN when four
players of the New York Yankees plus the team's general manager
arrived with 17 year old refugee from Sierra Leone Mohamed Kamara,
set to meet his country's ambassador to the UN in the Indonesia
Lounge next to the General Assembly.
to the UN press corps as a photo op. Some 15 correspondents showed
up, Inner City Press among them. UN Protocol and security
officials scurried around. Finally up the escalator came Derek Jeter
and C.C. Sabathia, with Curtis Granderson and Marcus Thames. They
stood for a photograph then went in for what was described as a
to the UN ran in after them. One reporter joked, is he looking for an
autograph? Another came up with a phrase: the Damascus Destroyer
chases the Bronx Bombers.
it was over,
general manager Brian Cashman took three questions. One was baseball
related: what does he think of the Tampa Bay Rays? Cashman said not
only the Rays are tough, there's also Boston , Texas and Minnesota,
all of them headaches.
Sierra Leone, New York Yankees not shown
on a slow
news day at the UN -- Inner City Press ran from the photo op to the
noon briefing and asked about Sudan, Congo and Sri Lanka -- one had
to wonder what was the UN hook? Apparently, they wanted to meet
Sierra Leone's ambassador. The UN was a mere venue. Then again, they
went to the New York Stock Exchange too. A tour of New York icons by
New York icons. It's what passes for news in August.
* * *
Expels UN Officials from Darfur for Rape Detection, UN Silent,
Menkerios One Year & Out, Gration's Khartoum Jaunt
August 18 -- As in West Darfur UN officials are being
expelled for distributing rape detection equipment and collecting
signatures on an anti-hunger petition, the UN in New York insists on
saying nothing, trying desperately to ingratiate itself to Sudanese
the UN Food and Agriculture Organization confirmed the expulsion
of its official for circulating the petition on hunger, Inner City
Press asked the Spokesman for Ban Ki-moon about this, and the
expulsion of other UN officials for conducting research into rape in
Darfur. Video here,
from Minute 17:41.
contrary to the FAO confirmation, that the UN has “still
received no official notification,” is still speaking with the
government and “can't say any more.”
reflect a split of the UN Secretariat from from FAO, which confirms
the expulsions? Nesirky pointed back at his own answer, that he
“can't say anymore.” Can't or won't?
moderated an August 6 press conference by Margot Wallstrom,
the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual
Violence in Conflict, at which Ms. Wallstrom said that Sudan would be
a major focus of her offices since rape by “men in uniform” is
widespread there. Video here.
can the UN
work on the issue of rape in Sudan it is lets its personnel be
expelled for distributing rape detection equipment, and then refuses
to defend them or even speak about the case?
UN's Ban and Wallstrom on rape, comment on Sudan
expulsions not shown
also asked if the UN is facilitating or helping the visit to Sudan by
US Envoy Scott Gration. While some said
with this trip Gration would
be addressing his perceived disinterested in Darfur, now this trip
reported to be mostly about the North - South conflict and the
who in the UN
would be facilitating his trip -- Haile Menkerios, the head of the UN
Misssion in Sudan? Earlier this week, Inner City Press asked
Nesirky's acting deputy Farhan Haq to confirm that Menkerios only
went to Sudan begrudgingly, with a deal to come back to New York and
his Department of Political Affairs job in at most one year.
the informal understanding, Haq said. What does this say about the
UN's commitment to protecting civilians in Sudan?
that rounds is that while Sudan may throw out the UNAMID mission, it
would allow UNAMID chief Ibrahim Gambari to stay. Others say Gambari,
despite all odds, may have his eye on the top post in his native
Nigeria. We'll see.
* * *
Is Forced To Correct Its Fast Thanks to Sudan, Kalma Camp Problems,
Expulsions and UN Silence Persist
16 -- The UN in Sudan is too slow to complain and too
fast to celebrate. On August 16, after refusing to confirm to Inner
City Press at the noon briefing that UN officials in West Darfur are
being expelled, the UN Spokesperson's Office put out an unequivocal
statement that “the Secretary-General appreciates the restoration
today of humanitarian access to Kalma Camp.”
sources in South Darfur told it that access had not, in fact, been
restored. Even the UN had to acknowledge it, putting out a correction
at 3:25 pm that “the Secretary-General appreciates the restoration
today of some humanitarian access to Kalma Camp.”
City Press wrote to the two top officials working
in the Spokesperson's Office on Monday, asking
light of the revision of today's statement on Darfur to include
“some” in “restoration of some humanitarian access,” please
describe as specifically as possible what types of humanitarian
access have NOT yet been restored. On deadline. Thanks.”
“on deadline,” and the UN's own mistake, three hours
later no response was provided. A report from Sudan quoted an OCHA
spokesperson whose contact information is not online that “it was
mostly an assessment mission.”
in Sudan confirmed on Monday what the UN in New York would
not, that "The heads of the UNHCR (U.N. refugee agency) and FAO
(Food and Agriculture) agencies in West Darfur as well as the head of
UNHCR agency in Zalengei have been asked to leave.”
UN's Ban and Al Bashir, thanks for access to Kalma:
correction not shown
in New York, according to the UN's own transcript:
I wanted to ask a couple of questions about Sudan. One
is: can you confirm the reports that in West Darfur, the head of FAO
[Food and Agriculture Organization], two people from UNHCR [United
Nations refugee agency] and two Red Cross people have been expelled
by the Government? Particularly as to the UN officials, is that
something you can confirm? And also as to the two peacekeepers, a
Jordanian newspaper has said that those who had taken the
peacekeepers have made demands about some reforms for UNAMID to make. I
wonder if the UN has any idea whether these are
Government-affiliated kidnappers. And finally, whatever happened on
the pilot investigation, the Russian pilot that was taken in Darfur?
Did they ever find out who was behind that? Was it the
Government-affiliated Janjaweed or other rebels?
Well, first of all, on the question of the
various abductions: on the Russian pilot issue, I don’t have
anything further to say. On the issue of the two people that were
abducted over the weekend from UNAMID, we did put a press release
from UNAMID over the weekend mentioning that abduction, but we do not
have any further comment or any details at this time. We are, of
course, working for their safe release and wouldn’t have any
comment to make on that.
situation at Kalma camp of the various agencies, we have seen
the preliminary reports of these developments, and we are awaiting
further clarification from the Government of Sudan.
It seems like a whole other region; these expulsions are
the head of FAO for all of West Darfur, and El Geneina and in
Zalingei. I’m not trying to be… I’m just saying that it seems
like the standoff between UNAMID and local officials in Darfur seems
to be spreading from South Darfur to West Darfur. I just wonder what
the plan to deal with this is.
On the question of West Darfur, our
understanding is that the statements were related to security matters
in West Darfur State. However, expulsion orders have not been
officially issued. Discussions are ongoing between the UN and the
Government in Khartoum. The International Committee of the Red Cross
(ICRC) has requested that it will handle these developments on its
own behalf, which the UN will respect...
I’m sorry, there’s just one more on this. There’s
a story about these West Darfur expulsions, says that the head of FAO
for West Darfur was asked to leave because he had forwarded a
petition against hunger, “1billionhungry.org”, and authorities
said he did not obtain approval for it. So I’m wondering, you said
it was a security situation, but is there any indication… that’s
why I’m saying it seems like the Government is cracking down. Are
UN officials permitted to forward things like this
“1billionhungry.org” petition to stop hunger without governmental
authority, or do they seek approval?
Well, I’m not really aware that this is a
central issue. Like I said, discussions are ongoing between the UN
and the Government in Khartoum, and we’ll see what the results of
at the same
time, Abdallah al-Fadil, head of UNAMID in West Darfur, was quoted
that "The heads of the UNHCR and FAO agencies in West Darfur as
well as the head of UNHCR agency in Zalengei have been asked to
leave.” So why did the UN in New York says that “expulsion orders
have not been officially issued” and that all humanitarian access
to the Kalma Camp had been restored?
UN in Sudan is
too slow to complain and too fast to celebrate. And this puts
civilians at risk. Watch this site.