As Somalis Are Killed by
Peacekeepers, Censorship Urged by UN's Ould Abdallah
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of
Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
NATIONS, February 6 -- In
Mogadishu the week began with Ugandan troops of the AMISOM mission
a crowd of civilians and killing between 25 and 40, after the explosion
roadside bomb. In New York, UN Deputy Spokesperson Marie Okabe read out
of UN statements, but nothing on Somalia.
City Press asked, "there
are reports from Somalia that African Union peacekeepers there firing
into a crowd
and killing some say 25, some say 39, is the United Nations aware of
it have any comment on that?" Deputy Spokesperson Okabe replied,
don’t have any comment on that today, but we can certainly ask them for
But when Ould Abdallah spoke about the incident, he
blamed the media for
reporting it, even comparing them to the radio station in Rwanda
stoking up genocidal hatred. Ould Abdallah said
happened is to divert attention from what is going on here, and as
usual to use
the media to repeat Radio Mille Colline, to repeat the genocide in
is a need to have a truce, one month truce in reporting on Somalia..
there is double, triple checking, because Somalia is exceptional. We
have exceptional checking of the news."
So the UN's top envoy to Somalia, a country the UN
community have mis-served for more than a decade, is calling for
reports of Somali civilians killed by international "peacekeepers."
Despite Inner City Press' request at UN headquarters
for the UN's
statement on the shooting, Ould Abdallah's comment have not
repeated from the UN podium. Calls are growing for him to retract the
statement, for him to step down.
Inner City Press has obtained a copy of the media
strategy designed by Ould
Abdallah and his spokesperson, a former BBC correspondent named Susanna
Price, and puts it online here.
UN's Ban and Ould Abdallah, calls for
censorship and response not shown
City Press attended the surreal negotiations in Djibouti between the
UN-supported Transitional Federal Government and London-based supposed
opposition leaders in mid- 2008, it left written questions with Ms.
who had paid for the hotel bills at the Kempinski in Djibouti. The
never effectively answered. Now comes word that the re-invented Sheikh
Sheik Ahmed has recently paid with many of his supporters' plane
The press strategy for the Somali diaspora, which
Inner City Press is
putting online here,
presaged Ould Abdallah's February 3 comments:
"There has been some extremely
negative reporting about the UN for example... with regards to UNDP.
There is a
perception that the UN is partial and is supporting the TFG and that it
helping the security services."
irony is that comments like Ould Abdallah's on February 3 are a part,
but only one part, of why "there is a perception that th UN is
partial." Rather than modify his partiality, at least to the
extent of acnknowledging
and trying to avoid pro-TFG soldiers' killing of civilians, Ould
decided to try to silence the media by outrageously mis-playing the
The UNPOS strategy also contradicts Ould Abdallah's
call to censor media
outside of Somalia in praising the impact of pro-UN members of the
their financial input,
the diaspora have important ties back home with their clans and
groups and wield much influence on affairs inside Somalia. A number attended
Mbagathi conferences and became MPs. Many
of the MPs, and the leaders from the Government and opposition side
in the first round of Djibouti
talks were, like the Prime Minister, UK passport holders.
Their support is extremely important for the
UN and can help to change perceptions.
numbers of Somalis in
the West are in UK (London, and other cities) and North America (Toronto, Minneapolis,
Columbus Ohio) with slightly
smaller concentrations in the Netherlands,
There are also significant numbers in Kenya,
and they are one of the largest
immigrant communities in Dubai
is very important to let the
Diaspora know that we value their contribution, support and input and
them to be involved and informed. We also need the Diaspora to
work that the UN is doing in Somalia
and to inform them that the UN is working inside Somalia
for the benefit of the
This last may be a definition of propaganda, which
Michele Montas last month said is not allowed in UN press briefings.
happen to UN envoy Ould Abdallah? Watch this space.
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