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UN Was Silent as Bashir Blocked Food to Khor Abeche in Darfur, Referendum Talk

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 5 -- The Sudanese administration of Omar al Bashir blocked even food resupply to UN peacekeepers near Khor Abeche in South Darfur last month, a senior UN official off-handedly told the Press on Wednesday.

  At a UN background briefing about the upcoming South Sudan referendum, Inner City Press asked the senior UN official -- who insisted on being identified that way -- about the lack of human rights reporting by the African Union - UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur under the command of the UN's Ibrahim Gambari.

  The senior UN official responded that a forthcoming UNAMID report, apparently after the referendum begins, will document restrictions on access and movement imposed by the government and the Darfur rebels.

 The official said there have been 39,000 additional IDPs since the Security Council's visit in October 2010.

  The official cited the Tanzanian batallion for using their own food supplies to feed displaced people in Khor Abeche, and running out of food due to governmental prohibitions on resupply. The official said, "They were not able to be resupplied for days on end because the government was restricting our movements of our supply trucks."

The question is, why wasn't this reported in real time by UNAMID? By contrast, last month both Ban Ki-moon and Alain Le Roy speaking about Cote d'Ivoire openly invited other members states to help break any blockade by Gbagbo forces on peacekeeper resupply. But in Darfur, the UN and Ibrahim Gambari stayed quiet.

On the referendum, Inner City Press asked the official about the status of oil and water sharing talks, the division and possible forgiving of Sudan's foreign debt, and the citizenship rights of Southerners in the North.

The senior UN official said that citizenship has still not be agreed on, predicting this will have to wait for a package deal including Abyei and the delayed popular consultation in Blue Nile state and South Kordofan.

The official admitted that the UN is not much involved in the important debt talks -- Inner City Press has previously asked the IMF about this -- and said that water is as important as oil in Sudan.

  Inner City Press asked the UN official about South Sudan's announcement it will push out Darfur rebels. The UN official praised this, naming in particular Minni Minnawi "who has been in Juba." It was the Minni Minnawi group the government was attacking in Khor Abeche.

UN's Menkerios in Khartoum, praise of Bashir after Khor Abeche not shown

A projected video hook up from UNMIS itself was not held. Inner City Press asked the senior UN official to explain UNMIS chief Haile Menkerios' praised of Omar al Bashir's “courage” and leadership.

  The senior official official essentially repeated the praise, calling Bashir's recent statements unexpectedly positive. He noted that "Senator Kery made some positive remarks." But what about the outstanding indictments for genocide and war crimes? Watch this site.

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As UN Confirms Darfur Rape, Council Claims IDP Camp Arrests “Addressed”

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 5 -- Sudan will be the issue most frequently discussed by the UN Security Council in January, but the deteriorating situation in Darfur is becoming an afterthought with very little follow-up.

The month's program of work was confirmed Wednesday by Council president Ivan Barbalic of Bosnia, with three days of briefings about Sudan, beginning January 6 with a briefing by Benjamin Mkapa and the UN's Haile Menkerios, who on New Years Eve praised Omar al Bashir for his “courage” and leadership.

That Bashir is under indictment for genocide and war crimes in Darfur did not seem to be of concern to Menkerios or the UN Secretariat, whose spokesman Martin Nesirky on Wednesday spoke of the release of a kidnapped UN peacekeeper in Darfur “courtesy” of Bashir's government.

Nesirky also belatedly answered a question Inner City Press had been asking since last month, about two reported rapes by Bashir's forces in Tawila, near UN peacekeepers under Ibrahim Gambari's command. Nesirky issued a long read out, concluding that one rape was been verified -- but not two! We will have more on this.

In Darfur, protection and follow through not shown

Inner City Press asked Barbalic about Bashir's arrest of three people who met with the Security Council delegation to Darfur in October 2010, of which Barbalic was a part. While Barbalic paused to say how moved the visit had made him -- he said “we can only cry aloud permanently” -- he claimed that the arrests have somehow “been addressed.” That is not the case.

We will follow all three Sudan briefings at the Council -- but will Darfur remain just an afterthought? Barbalic said that Southern Sudan and Darfur are connected. Most recently, Salva Kiir of the SPLM has reportedly agreed to push all Darfur rebels -- and refugees? -- out of South Sudan. Watch this site.

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.

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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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