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At UN, As Sudan Admits Expulsions Are For Rape Detection, Offers Jebel Marra Access

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 23 -- After three weeks of blockade of the Kalma Camp in Darfur, the Security Council on Monday issued weak “elements to the press” calling for the camps to be demilitarized.

  Inner City Press asked Council president Vitaly Churkin of Russia if this means the Council supports the government of Sudan's demand to be included, with the UN, in patrols of the camps.

There was some discussion of that,” Churkin replied, adding that the “bottom line” is that the camps are “supposed to be demilitarized.” He said he wouldn't like to go into detail about how that would be accomplished. Video here, from Minute 1:39.

The UN-African Union envoy Ibrahim Gambari, according to at least six high profile residents of the Kalma Camp, threatened to turn them over to the government of Sudan unless they agree to and support government patrols of the camp. (The UN denies that Gambari made this threat.)

Inner City Press asked new Sudanese Permanent Representative Daffa-Alla Alhag Ali Osman if his goverment expects the UN Mission UNAMID to turn the six over. He said yes, that Gambari is “collaborating” with the government and that after discussing “modalities, the hand over will take place.” Video here, from Minute 5:43.

Inner City Press asked him about the expulsion of UN officials from West Darfur, and about the exclusion of the UN and NGOs from Jebel Marra. Daffa-Alla Alhag Ali Osman said that if anyone violates their agreement with the government, measure will be taken.

Inner City Press asked, Was this for collecting signatures for an anti-hunger petition, and distributing rape detection kits? Daffa-Alla Alhag Ali Osman admitted, “Most probably this is the accusation directed to them.” Video here, from Minute 8:18.

Strangely, when Inner City Press asked if it isn't precisely the UN's job to distribute rape protection kits, Daffa-Alla Alhag Ali Osman said that while the government is also concerned, it will not acccept that “some want to promote this culture.” What - the culture of rape detection?

The UN, meanwhile, has refused to comment on why its personnel were told to leave. The UN Spokesperson's office says it is still under discussion, while OCHA says it is not authorized to speak.

On the Jebel Marra exclusion, Daffa-Alla Alhag Ali Osman blamed it on the Abdel Wahid faction and the “instability” it causes. Inner City Press asked if the UN is free to enter Jebel Marra. Daffa-Alla Alhag Ali Osman said it was preferred the UN coordinate with the government.

Will you escort them?” Inner City Press asked. “Sure,” replied Daffa-Alla Alhag Ali Osman, adding that his government is coordinating with UNAMID on the “modalities.” Video here, from Minute 1:35.

UN's Gambari in El Fasher, Kalma Six and Jebel Marra not shown

   Daffa-Alla Alhag Ali Osman brings a new style to Sudan diplomacy at the UN. He thanked Churkin for this elements to the press, and afterwards asked Inner City Press, “How did I do?” There is talk of a dinner for UN correspondents, at the Sudan Mission to the UN.

Inner City Press told a representative of the US Mission, if you want your voice heard Susan Rice or in her frequent absences her deputies need to speak at the stakeout, as Daffa-Alla Alhag Ali Osman did twice on Monday. But neither Rice nor the UN's Atul Khare appeared. It was Russia's Churkin and Sudan's Daffa-Alla Alhag Ali Osman, who thanked Churkin for his press statement. Only at the UN.

* * *

At UN, Darfur and Kalma Camp Belatedly Discussed, No Rice, No Understanding? Elements to the Press Expected, Not on Relocation

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 23 -- After weeks of starvation of the Kalma Camp in Darfur, the Security Council took up the matter for a second time on Monday morning. Weeks ago, Alain Le Roy of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations was charged with coming to a “full understanding of the facts” of violence in the Kalma Camp.

But no understanding of any kind, much less a full one, has yet been announced. Nor, it seems, has either the UK or US sufficiently planned for an outcome of the Monday meeting. A non Permanent Five member's spokesperson, on the way into the meeting, said that informal polling showed a lack of support for even “elements to the press.”

US Permanent Representative Susan Rice was noticeably absent -- or AWOL -- while Sudan's new Permanent Representative worked the crowd. He promised to do a stakeout Q&A about not only the Kalma Camp, which South Darfur authorities now seek to close down and split in two, but also about “the new strategy.” This refers to Khartoum looking away from the so called Doha process, which neither the JEM nor Abdul Wahid faction rebels are taking part in.

For the briefing on Kalma Camp, outgoing humanitarian chief John Holmes and DPKO's deputy Atul Khare walked into the Council. DPKO's spokesman told Inner City Press that UN Spokesman Martin Nesirky had been given a written update on Kalma before the August 20 noon briefing. But Nesirky did not read out the update, apparently only willing to do so in response to a question.

Khare in the Council, Susan Rice, UN update and understanding not shown

With his announced regime of limiting questions, this becomes more problematic -- and emblematic, too, the UN Secretariat's seeming cover up of civilian suffering. Watch this space.

Update of 11:30 a.m. -- Not only Sudan's new Permanent Representative, but now the UN's Atul Khare as well, will be doing stake outs.

Update of 11:56 A.M. -- Inner City Press asked Sudan's Perm Rep six questions and will write them up later. Sources tell Inner City Press there WILL be an "elements to the press" after the meeting, calling for humanitarian access, supporting UNAMID. But nothing on the relocation of the Kalma camp.

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

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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