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ICP Asks Why Saudi On, Cameroon Not On, UN's “Good Child Killers” List, Gamba Mulling

By Matthew Russell Lee, Periscope; Video

UNITED NATIONS, October 6 – On Yemen,  the day after the UN's Children and Armed Conflict annexes formally came out, here, the UN's representative on the issue Virginia Gamba held a press conference, and Inner City Press asked about Yemen and Cameroon. The Saudi Arabia led Coalition bombing Yemen is listed, but in a new section of those who "have put in place measures during the reporting period aimed at improving the protection of children." Inner City Press asked Gamba why she was praising the Coalition's self-investigations, which are published for only a small percentae of attacks and don't, for example, identify which Coalition member did the bombing. Inner City Press also asked why Nigeria but not Cameroon is in the annex, given not only Boko Haram's use of child suicide bombers in Cameroon but also the Cameroon government's attack on children in the Anglophone areas. Gamba said that she is aware of increased Cameroon issues and is considering a "regional" approach; she is preparing the report on 2017. Asked why her report on 2016 came out only now she said there was a full month without a representative. Typically great UN planning, and attempt to placate the Saudis. Will that be enough for Saudi, whose Ambassador Abdallah Y. Al-Mouallimi has scheduled a press conference for October 6 at 1 pm? Others put on what Inner City Press is calling Guterres' "good child killers" list are the Afghan National Police (who killed UN Security hero Louis Maxwell), the Somali National Army, the DR Congo's FARDC Army and others. There are a few slight changes between draft and final: anglicization to "Army of Islam" in Syria, for example. In DR Congo, it is now simply Nyartura, not Mayi Mayi Nyatura. But how will Saudi Arabia, and then Guterres, react? Guterres will leave town on Saturday. Storms ahead? Sources close to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres saying, "the Saudis won't even talk to me anymore," in connection with the current plan of including the Saudi-led Coalition in the Children and Armed Conflict annex in a section for those child killers who "have put in place measures during the reporting period to improve the protection of children." The sources also focus on the UN Department of Political Affairs holdover chief Jeffrey Feltman, who last time conveyed the fatwa threat to then Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. This time, Inner City Press is informed, Feltman faces a move to belatedly replace him, coming (the request, now yet the execution) this week. We'll have more on this. When a Yemen meeting during the UN General Assembly week was held at 8 am on September 22, new UN Relief Chief Mark Lowcock introduced as speakers the foreign ministers of Sweden and the Netherlands, representatives of Japan and the UAE, and the UN's envoy Ismael Ould Cheikh Ahmed. While billed as a humanitarian meeting, the UAE spoke without irony about outside interference. (Yemen's representative spoke in Arabic; Inner City Press streamed Periscope video). On September 28, Inner City Press asked Lowcock whether he thought the meeting had a sufficiently humanitarian character. He pointed to his concluding statements, which Inner City Press had not heard (see below), saying that the focus should be on humanitarian access, and later lamenting the continuing failure to deploy cranes. The reason Inner City Press was unable to get these views, and others, on September 22 is, in a phrase, UN censorship. To get to the meeting, held in UN Conference Room 5, Inner City Press unlike other no-show reporters like Egypt's Akhbar al Yom was required to get a UN escort or minder, who told Inner City Press it could not ask questions or speak with anyone. This despite UN OCHA staff telling Inner City Press it could wait outside and speak to people as they left. So the UN's retaliatory eviction of Inner City Press 19 months ago for covering the now conflicted UN corruption by Macau based businessman Ng Lap Seng through then PGA John Ashe now results in it, unlike the Saudi and pro-Saudi media in the meeting, being unable to speak to the participants. This has been raised, so far without any response, to Lowcock's fellow Brit, the head of DPI Alison Smale, here. This is today's UN. We hope to report more on Lowcock's views, including hoping that OCHA releases transcripts of what Lowcock says. While Canada joins The Netherlands at the UN in Geneva in calling for an investigation of possible war crimes in Yemen including the Saudi-led coalition's killing of civilians, Canada has continued a $15 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia. When Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau held a press conference at the UN on September 21, Inner City Press went early, intending to ask him to explain this incongruity or seeming hypocrisy. Trudeau's spokesman announced that the questioners had been “pre-determined,” but did not explain how. So in a lull after what the spokesman called the last question - would Trudeau be a mediator on Venezuela - Inner City Press asked about Canadian arms sales to Saudi while calling for a probe. At first Trudeau said he was happy to answer the question. Then he said no, he would not reward “bad behavior,” and instead reached out for question in French about day care. (Inner City Press notes that pre-determining questioners is bad behavior. Apparently the CBC journalist who was given the first question agreed to it; the organization only the day before sent an Egyptian state media correspondent as the lone “pooler” in Secretary General Antonio Guterres' meeting with General Sisi.) Eearlier on September 21 when UK minister Alistair Burt came in front of the UN Security Council to speak about accountability for Daesh in Iraq, Inner City Press deferred to a timely question about the referendum in Kurdistan. Then during  lull - identical to that in which it put its question to Trudeau - Inner City Press asked Burt about his quote, about accountability for the bombing of civilians in Yemen by the Saudi-led Coalition with UK bombs, that "Our view is that it is for the Coalition itself, in the first instance, to conduct such investigations. They have the best insight into their own military procedures and will be able to conduct the most thorough and conclusive investigations.” Inner City Press asked how he can say this, given that the Saudis have investigated less than five percent of the killings. Video here. Burt's answer focused on the peace process - what peace process? At least Burt answered, and did not like Trudeau try to call merely asking the question in a lull "bad behavior" - we'll have more on this.


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