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As Sudan Threatens NGOs, UN Troops “Cannot Patrol,” S. Sudan Meets Germans

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 12 -- As in Sudan the government of Omar al Bashir threatened to shut down humanitarian NGOs in Southern Kordofan and Darfur for allegedly helping insurgents, the UN on Tuesday confirmed to Inner City Press that the soldiers it still has in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states do not patrol, and presumably would not defend civilians attacked in front of them and their bases.

  While there were already complaints about inaction by UN peacekeepers, particularly the Egyptians in Southern Kordofan and the Zambians in Abyei, since the mission's mandate expired on July 9 it has become official: “the peacekeepers who were part of the UN Mission in Sudan cannot patrol because they do not have a mandate to do so,” as UN spokesman Martin Nesirky answered Inner City Press.

  But they are still there. Does this mean that if civilians were being slaughtered right outside their base, they would do nothing?

  From the UN's transcription of its July 12 noon briefing:

Inner City Press: the Northern Sudan Secretary for the Political Sector, Gudbi al Mahadi, has said that NGOs face being ejected from both Southern Kordofan and Darfur on charges of providing logistical support to insurgents. So I am wondering, is that something that the UN system, whether in its wind-down capacity or UNAMID [African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur] in its still-robust capacity, are they aware of that? Do they oppose that? And also now that the resolution has been passed by the Council, what exactly is the, sort of, the orders in which the peacekeepers in, still in Kadugli and other places in Southern Kordofan, are under? Are they allowed to go out of their base if they witness…?

Spokesperson Nesirky: Well, the short answer to that is they are not allowed to patrol. They do not have the mandate to do so. What the resolution says, as I think you all recall, is that it requests the Secretary-General to consult with the parties, the African Union High-level Implementation Panel and other partners and present to the Security Council options for UN support to new security arrangements in Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan states in line with the 28 June Framework Agreement between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North. So what I am trying to say is that the Council has asked the Secretary-General to provide options what could be done further. The short answer, as I said at the beginning, is no; the peacekeepers who were part of the UN Mission in Sudan cannot patrol because they do not have a mandate to do so. Does that mean that we are concerned? Yes, it does, because clearly humanitarian workers need to be able to go about their work to help the people in Southern Kordofan. And they are not able to do so with the level of confidence that they could before.

Kiir & Bashir in Juba, future in Kordofan and Darfur not shown

Inner City Press: thanks for that... Who in the UN system is actually… is there any involvement by the UN in talks if they exist between Khartoum and SPLM [Sudan People’s Liberation Movement] North about [Southern] Kordofan? I’ve heard there is not a process in Addis anymore, but are there processes inside Sudan proper and is Mr. [Haile] Menkerios or [Thabo] Mbeki or somebody [from the UN involved]?

Spokesperson Nesirky: Well, Mr. Menkerios is now going to be Special Envoy of the Secretary-General to deal with the parties on the remaining details of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. That is an element of work that clearly remains to be done. And obviously Mr. Menkerios has the expertise to do that. I think that’s… I’d leave it at that at this point.

So what is the UN doing? We'll have more on this.

  Meanwhile on Tuesday evening in the Security Council chamber, with no other journalists around, a delegation from South Sudan came to meet with German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle and his entourage, including the able German Africa Director, just in from the independence celebration in Juba. As emerged Monday night, Angela Merkel is in Kenya (where he was Ambassador), and then on to Angola, where oil is presumably a or the major topic.

  The Tuesday evening meeting was to plan the events of Wednesday, when the Council will vote on UN membership for the Republic of South Sudan, and then have a debate, presumably including these issues in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile, if not Darfur. We'll be there - watch this site.

* * *

In Sudan, UN Confined to Bases in Kordofan, No Answers on Future in Darfur

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 11 -- Amid celebrations of South Sudan's independence, questions have arisen about the UN's future in the North, in Darfur and the zones of conflict in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states.

A resolution adopted Monday by the Security Council says the UN peacekeepers have to be entirely out of North Sudan, except Darfur, by the end of August.

But it appears they will be confined to their bases until then, even as top UN humanitarian official Valerie Amos told Inner City Press that questions have yet to be answered about the fate of civilians removed from outside the UN base in Kadugli and returned to their villages.

Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky what the peacekeepers will be doing:

Inner City Press: on this South Kordofan — I understand the Secretary-General raised it when he was traveling there — I just wanted to know, what’s the current, sort of, freedom of movement of the peacekeepers in South Kordofan? There is some footage existing of them saying that they are not to leave their base until their status is somehow either agreed on or formalized. Are they conducting patrols? Is it their understanding they are supposed to stay in the base until they either leave or authorized to go out? What’s their current mandate and movement?

Spokesperson Nesirky: Well, as you know, the mandate expired and has not been renewed or extended, at this point, at least. And that does obviously have implications for the movement of peacekeepers and therefore the freedom of access for humanitarian workers that Ms. Amos just addressed a moment ago. I’d need to check with our colleagues in Peacekeeping Operations precisely what is happening with the peacekeepers at the moment. But clearly, if a mandate has expired, you move into a different phase.

Inner City Press: There is a resolution that is going to be adopted, that is slated to be adopted, that is called a wind down, but it’s unclear whether under that even without the consent... If North Sudan doesn’t consent, what presence--

Spokesperson: That’s precisely why I say we’re moving into a different phase. And I think that that remains to be clarified. What remains unchanged is our concern about our ability to provide the protection that’s needed for humanitarian workers to go about their work.

So the UN is “concerned,” but can't do anything about it. And so it downplays its inaction -- for example, the UN's write up of Valerie Amos' press conference, at which Inner City Press asked her about humanitarian access in Southern Kordofan, has no mention of that exchange, click here to view.

The strategy seems to be to answer few or no questions. Inner City Press asked asked basic questions about Darfur, including whether the UN would be appointing a replacement to Darfur mediator Djibril Bassole. Nesirky said he didn't know but would check.

 Six hours later he had provided no answer:

Inner City Press: elsewhere in Sudan, Darfur, the Abdul Wahid Nur faction of SLA [Sudan Liberation Army] has said that it should… you know, it’s called for a uniting of all remaining rebels in Sudan to overthrow an Islamist State, and I just wonder what is the understanding of UNAMID [African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur], given this large peacekeeping mission, of the impact of the breakaway of the South on its mandate in Darfur, and is there going to be a replacement to Mr. [Djibril] Bassolé as a sort of joint UN-AU mediator on the Darfur topic or is that mediation completed?

Spokesperson Nesirky: I would need to check on any replacement for Mr. Bassolé. And as for the mission and mandate of UNAMID — the joint UN-African Union mission in Darfur — that remains unchanged. That is mandated by the Security Council. That hasn’t changed.

But much has changed. South Sudan is on track to be voted into UN membership by the Security Council on July 13 and the General Assembly on July 14 and have its flag raised. Bashir is ordering peacekeepers to leave Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile, and is preparing to crack down in Darfur. The UN is spending $1 billion a year for a force in Darfur, but what will they do? Watch this site.

* * *

On S. Sudan Resolution, UN Role on Borders of Blue Nile & Kordofan Unclear, Troop Numbers Game

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, July 6, updated -- With the countdown to South Sudan's formal declaration of independence on July 9 begun, at the UN in New York on Wednesday negotiations on the resolution for a new peacekeeping mission went into overtime.

  A Deputy Permanent Representative emerged from the Security Council chamber and told Inner City Press that while the size of the mission will be reconsidered after three or six months, a sticking point is whether and how the disputed borders in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states will be monitored.

  “If the North does not agree,” the DPR told Inner City Press, “there can't be any UN peacekeepers there.”

  Khartoum has agreed to Ethiopian troops in Abyei, but has stepped away from a deal about South Kordofan. When Inner City Press asked the UN earlier on Wednesday to confirm troops build ups in South Kordofan, the response was a reiteration of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's call for freedom of movement. Does that mean the UN doesn't have freedom of movement? Yes, was the answer. Video here, from Minute 47:30.

  Questions posed to the UN in New York on July 5 were then e-mailed to UNMIS in Sudan, but have yet to be answered. A delegation from the Department of Peacekeeping Operations came out of the Security Council at 5 pm on Wednesday. Referring to the number of troops proposed, Inner City Press asked, “Seven thousand?” A UN military official laughed; a civilian official said “DPKO has no comment.”

[See update below: UK says between six and seven thousand.]

  On the numbers, a Permanent Representative inside the negotiations told Inner City Press that DPKO while asking for 7000 also refers to a 5400 figure. We'll have more on this.

Footnote: as the above was finished, the Obama administration announced its delegation to Juba, including Susan Rice, Colin Powell, Brooke Anderson, Rep. Donald Payne, Princeton Lyman, Donald Steinberg, Africom's Carter F. Ham, and Johnnie Carson. “Johnny Carson?” a US official asked. Not that Johnny Carson...

Update of 7:35 pm -- among Western P-5 Permanent Representative, the UK's Mark Lyall Grant emerged and told Inner City Press, somewhere between six and seven thousand. France's Gerard Araud said nothing. And Susan Rice of the US... is still inside the Council, if the presence of USUN body guards is any guide.

Update of 8 pm -- the problem of adopting the resolution on Friday has apparently been solved: the resolution will say that the mission is created "upon" independence, and will be voted on Friday. The last of the diplomats have left.

Click for July 7, 11 re Sudan, Libya, Syria, flotilla

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

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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