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As Sudan Expels Reporter For UNDP Quote, UNDP Denies It & Lack of Access

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 5 -- With the Sudanese government this week refusing to renew the visa and journalist permit of a freelance reporter who quoted a UN official that Sudan's eastern Kassala state is "a volcano waiting to erupt," the backstory Inner City Press has found reflects badly on the UN.

  Mathieu Galtiertold Agence France Presse "the official reason is because our visa in finishing." AFP added that he

"published a controversial article in early December for IRIN, a news service of the United Nations humanitarian agency. It quoted 'a well-placed international official in Kassala' who compared the country's eastern Eritrea border region with a volcano. Within months, it could erupt into a conflict such as those already occurring in Sudan's South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, the official was quoted as saying."

  Actually, Galtier's sourcing was more specific, at least in French (on Slate Afrique, no longer on IRIN it seems), to an official of the UN Development Program. Click here to view (for now?)

  On January 3, two days before AFP's story on Galtier's expulsion, Inner City Press asked UNDP to respond to Sudanese state media bragging how it got the report retracted, requesting in writing that spokesman Sausan Ghosheh

"please provide UNDP response to Sudanese state media reporting: 'a Sudanese-UN legal fight that ended with a UN apology for a report on situations on eastern Sudan by a UNDP official. The report, which was published on a website, belongs to the UN, predicted escalations of the situations in eastern Sudan due to claims of lack of development projects and presence of an armed faction that prepares for launching attacks in eastern Sudan from its bases in Eritrea. Few hours after publishing the report, the UN rushed to deny it using all soft means to contain the matter.'"

  Two days later, Ghosheh answered the question in this way: "UNDP has guidance on who can represent the organization with media. No UNDP designated official has spoken to the media on this issue."

  Is UNDP saying that the article initially on the UN's IRIN was false, making up quotes from a UNDP official? Or is the UN again sucking up to the government, retracting criticism and even articles?

  Inner City Press also asked Ghosheh:

"deny or confirm (and explain why its silence) that Sudanese authorities barred UNDP from entering Al Muglad in South Kordofan.

(c) UN Photo
Ban Ki-moon & Helen Clark of UNDP, press conference answers not shown, not given

Separately, have there been UN system vehicles detained by military intelligence in Babanusa, and/or barred from passing to El Obeid in North Kordofan?"

  After two days, Ghosheh replied "Sudanese authorities did not deny UNDP or UNDP staff access to el Muglad."

  Given that UNDP in New York is disavowing -- or calling a lie -- a quote Khartoum didn't like from a UNDP official in Sudan, is UNDP supposed to be believed that Khartoum did not deny access to el Muglad, or South Kordofan, or El Obeid?

  Separately, since IRIN operates under the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, how is OCHA's Valerie Amos' new deal with Khartoum regarding Kordofan and Blue Niles states supposed to be viewed? Watch this site.

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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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