Council's 5 Days in Sudan in 6000 Words: Darfur Forgotten, $15 Returned
October 10 -- When the UN Security Council's 15 Ambassadors
and the Press went to Sudan for four days, what was accomplished?
Mark Lyall Grant of the UK, his colleague Susan Rice of the US at his
side, said the Council got commitments from the Omar al Bashir
government about the vote in South Sudan.
majority of people Inner City Press has spoken with predict a delayed
or canceled referendum or violence after one. And on first hand
experience, the Council accomplished little to nothing about Darfur.
best way is to give some blow by blow. It started in Uganda, or
before that in Nairobi. The Ambassadors flew from New York on two
British Airways flights. In a harbinger of things to come, there was
no one there to greet the BA flight.
through the Dar Gate
“snuck through,” as one assistant put it, a gate for another
flight to Dar al Salaam, Inner City Press spoke with China's Li
Baodong, asking him about Sweden's
attack on Beijing's record on
Li Baodong said softly. He tied it to the European
deferred request for special speaking rights in the UN General
Assembly. Now member states won't know if the EU would use a top
speaking position to make attacks like that, he said.
One wonders if
other EU members have pushed back at Sweden even more than China,
Egypt, Vietnam and Cuba did, at the end of the GA debate.
through was not effective: security guards arrived and asked the
delegation to go through a metal detector. Inner City Press did,
followed by Susan Rice who scowled but did not complain. (Spoiler
alert -- this will be contrasted to the end of the trip in Khartoum.)
arrived and whisked the Ambassadors to a VIP lounge by the
tarmac. In what would be a trend, there was no wireless Internet to
Churkin and Li
Baodong spoke with the Press, the UN's media liaison
came back and summoned reporters around him. There's been a request,
he said, that no one report on the Ambassadors doing nothing. His
request, he said, was directed at Inner City Press.
what if they
ARE doing nothing? What if nothing is accomplished?
amended: don't report that an Ambassador was “picking their nose.”
Hopefully there will be better news than that, Inner City Press
responded. Hopefully. And note that even this round up upon
conclusion of the trip is nose-pick free. Even though...
Ambassadors of UK, Russia, US & Brazil w/
Gambari, Kalma & Sora not shown, (c) MRLee
trusts it is ok
to report that on this Council trip, France sent it new Deputy
Permanent Representative. Japan's new Perm Rep was there. Other
countries beyond France not sending their Perm Reps or Number 1
Ambassadors were Austria, Gabon and Nigeria.
Museveni, the UN's Graveyard of Toyotas
white UN plane
pulled up to the VIP lounge. It was barely big enough -- hence the
last minute doubts about which reporters could come, also triggered
by one Permanent Five member of the Council's question about which
Press would be included, and why anyone from the Spokesperson's
Office had to come -- but once filled it took off for Uganda.
there was for the first time a greeting party. A few soldiers marched
around; one soldier, Inner City Press found, was sleeping on the
ground behind the rolled up red carpet. There was a metal detector to
go through to get out of the airport -- a first. Three busses were
Part of UN
delegation arriving in Entebbe, Oct 5-6,
2010, Bashir not shown (c) MRLee
waiting, it emerged that this Entebbe strip was the very one where
Israeli commandos raided the hijacked plane in 1978. The next year
Idi Amin was belatedly chased from the country -- something to be
brought up by President Yoweri Museveni -- into his long Saudi exile.
nearly one hour bus ride to and past Kampala, to the Speke Resort on
the shores of Lake Victoria. In a high ceilinged lobby that at last
had Internet, the Ambassadors and staffers and press checked into
their rooms. For the first time the number of staff could be counted.
Mark Lyall Grant,
leading the Darfur leg and co-leading in Khartoum, brought a UK
Ruhakana Rugunda of
Uganda, leading the Kampala leg, had a staffer from New York.
Susan Rice brought
two policy staffers -- Inner City Press was asked to leave them unnamed
and two close protection guards.
remarked on then and -- spoiler alert -- would become more so when
local journalists were removed from the UN plane in Juba, under UN
threat of force.
rooms were plush, complete with bed nets and air conditioner on the
wall. Perhaps writing and reading this was the point: Inner City
Press was told that the government insisted that the UN delegation
stay in this hotel, even though they would just wake up in the
morning and drive back out to Entebbe then leave.
breakfast buffet with watermelon juice -- Mexico's Claude Heller
remarked on that, “sandia” -- and fruit and eggs and sausage. In
a second hand account, Vitaly Churkin sipped a cup of coffee and
opined, “That is good coffee. Strong. But good.” On the drive
back to Entebbe, a billboard ad for tires said “There is no power
without control.” The Museveni meeting loomed.
first there was
a tour of the UN's new regional service center in Entebbe. A surprise
by Paul Buades, formerly the head of UN Procurement in New
York whom Inner City Press exposed as providing exclusive last
information to a French company but not other bidders. “If you
don't publish my e-mail,” Buades told Inner City Press at the time,
“you and I can be friends.”
Buades was in
fact friendly, shaking hands first with Inner City Press, offering a
tour of the base. Is there Internet, asked Inner City Press?
Apparently not: only UN intranet, no wifi. When the Ambassadors
arrived, Buades showed them Power Point slides about the economics of
was told, you can stay for the Q &A, but it must be off the
record. So the questions, such as they were, will not be reported
here. Later Buades complained that some of his answers were. Such is
The UN's Graveyard of Toyotas
Point was over, the tour of base began. There were fields full of
Toyotas, all painted UN white. We are installing new locks, Buades
and the base's Deputy Yury Cherep told the Ambassadors. Then we will
them to East Congo, or down the river to Kinshasa. Several
Ambassadors questions these logistics' wisdom.
base, there was a transit camp for peacekeepers, complete with
volleyball court and mess hall for 100, which Buades showed the
Ambassador. Although the sign on the door said UNMIS, the Mission in
South Sudan, there was a door for French lessons. Never too early, it
seems, to prepare for another UN job.
Cherep to Amb Rice, Rugunda, Churkin, Toyotas not shown (c) MRLee
time to go,
one of the handlers said. Museveni is waiting. Buades too the group
to the barbed wire perimeter of the base, pointed out at a wet land
on which cranes and other wildlife grazed. The government gave it, he
said, but it would cost a lot to bring it up to the level of the
defending his country's gift, said there was not reason to use
landfill to raise the level of the wet land. While Buades might have
meant bringing it up to the STANDARD of the base, Mark Lyall Grant
quipped that the cranes would leave once it was all filled with
short bus ride
brought the delegation to a huge mansion on a hill. Through a metal
detector and down a long hall way, a big room had been prepared for
Yoweri Museveni's remarks to the traveling press. But it would be
nearly a two hour wait. Repeated requests for Internet were met first
with the response, by a guard, that “only the Big Man has the
Internet,” then a comment that the jacks along the wall might be
corps only wire was back outside in the van. Inner City Press went
out, stopped by a half a dozen guards, and retrieved the wire from
the van. Back through the metal detector and in. But first one jack,
then the following six, had no Internet.
eighth jack was
the charm -- the Internet was live. Inner City Press uploaded the
Entebbe story, sent Tweets that a dysfunctional cell phone
disallowed. Now came guards, then Museveni. It was time to lock and
sat on a
throne-like chair, flanked by Ruhakana Rugunda. He said he'd take
five questions. The first was about his offer for Somalia of 20,000
troops -- Inner City Press has told the figure he used at the closed
door meeting in New York was 40,000 but who's counting -- and
Museveni answered that it was about solidarity. We are
revolutionaries, he said. Just an Tanzania sent us troops to put an
end to Idi Amin.
was called on, and asked about reports of the Ugandan troops in
Mogadishu firing shells into civilian areas like markets, and calls
for investigations. We are against shelling, Museveni said. He went
on to quote Mao, that a people's army should not take even a needle
and thread from the people without paying for it. Sewing with al
conference was over, as the TV crews packed up, Inner City Press used
the eighth jack to upload
a quick Uganda piece. Then it was off and
back to the airport, through the metal detectors again. One of the
two interpreters -- he will reappear -- explained that the earphones
in his metal suitcase were to help him do his job. He and Inner City
Press were the last onto the plane, which they took off for Juba.
Crowds and Chinese Hotels
the window was like a felt pool table broken up by the occasional
mountain or outcropping. It was hard to imagine tanks rolling across
such a landscape, mortars fired, death from the sky. At the Juba
airport, a happy crowd of people held signs welcoming the Council.
“Separation = the only way for peace in Sudan” said one of the
signs, reminiscent of one about Kosovo hung in a storefront in The
the crowds and taking pictures, Inner City Press forgot its carry-on
suitcase on the plane and asked to go back and get it. No, the UNMIS
handler said, we'll get left behind. A UN worker in a construction
vest held the suitcase up to the window. There is no time, said the
UNMIS handler. Driver, let's go.
first stop was
was Conference Hall of the Government of South Sudan. Inner City
Press had been there in 2008 but now it was fancier, like a classroom
in a law school. A tall security officer in wrap-around shades at
first stopped the Press from entering but then relented. Only to take
photos, Inner City Press was told.
the front of
the room sat Salva Kiir in his big hat. He had recently been quoted
that he would vote for independence, triggering claims from Khartoum
that he violated the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Inner City Press
asked Susan Rice about this. Her answer, however, was only on
background and so cannot be included.
photo op over,
the UNMIS handler -- a Harvard graduate, he'd let you know -- took
the press corps to their lodgings. The UN list included two spots,
the Grand hotel and one called New York, New York. But the press was
taken to the newer “Beijing Juba.”
women stood behind the counter, handing out passwords to use the
Internet. “There is beer,” said one of the reporters. There was
also wireless, if only in the lobby. The room was just containers,
complete with bed nets and cold water. The electrical outlets worked
with Chinese plugs. In context it was heaven.
Rice had let
on that George Clooney was in town -- you'll have competition, she
said, he's with Ann Curry -- and she and Clooney and others would be
going to a reception that night. The Press was not invited. (An Inner
City Press source who was invited said that Clooney joked with a tall
South Sudanese that he wouldn't take a photo with him because it
would make him look short.)
police trainer whom Inner City
Press met advised not to walk into the darkness in search of food.
is pitch black, she said. There's a single street light.
necessity, hunger is the mother of invention. But the neon light of a
metal palm tree like one by Manhattan's 23rd Street and East River,
Inner City Press and a colleague tried a restaurant compound down the
closed, the owner said, suggesting a place off in the
distance “by the cell phone tower, past the gas station.” The
roadside was truly pitch black. A sign, legible by cell phone light,
advised on behalf of UNEP and UK DFID to stop polluting Juba.
phone tower, the Basilica restaurant was open. The waitresses were
Eritrean; the menus offered “chicken broast and chips” with the
price in Sudanese pounds. The large screen TV above the bar played
European soccer. After a couple Tuskers and some spicy if skinny
chicken, the road was not so dark. The dollar to Sudanese pound
exchange rate was something of a rip-off, but worth it.
Juba, with a final Nile Beer from the cavernous bar in the back,
Inner City Press conducted interviews about the referendum. The
North will try to steal it, a man with markings on his forehead said
with a smile. I should know, he added, I was educated in Khartoum.
appeared, with a group of countrymen. He greeted Inner City Press.
You're staying here? He nodded. It was, subsequent reporting reveals,
further back in the compound, near the Chinese consulate. China is
hedging its bets, appears to be the take away, or take out if you
Pep Rally by the Nile
began with a helicopter trip. Out of the copter's portholes, the land
grew even lusher, following the Nile. There was a red dirt clearing,
in which the copter landed. Men in riot gear snapped to attention. A
UN staffer in a sharp looking suit said he was the personal adviser
to the Minister of Internal Affairs, and that these police were being
trained in the rule of law.
arrived in another chopper, and the crowd went on to greet them.
Under a tent the Minister of Interior affairs praised Susan Rice by
name, and said it was time for independence. He accused
dropping ammunition to “cattle rustlers” and the Lord's
Resistance Army. Susan Rice kept smiling.
Rice and SSudan minister, status neutral not shown (c) MRLee
would give her
own speech, to a tentful of recruits.
“Are you ready
to protect your country?” Yes! “Are you ready for independence?”
Yes! The question were by South Sudan government officials, flanked
by Susan Rice. Another diplomat, on that basis, would late call it a
“political rally” and deem Susan Rice's organization of the Juba
leg as inappropriate.
helicopter on Rejaf's red dirt airstrip, a tall UN staffer in khakis
with, other said, a Russian accent announced he would be joining the
Press copter. No you won't, said the young flight attendant or crew
member. I was here with the advance team, the man insisted. He went
to another of the copters and got in.
No Wow, the Ouster of Reporters
at the Juba
airstrip, a fixed wing plane was waiting. The next stop on the trip
was to be Wow, or Wau, to visit a Catholic hospital. Inner City Press
sat with Mexico's Ambassador Claude Heller, speaking of Kosovo. But
the plane, after revving up, turned its engines off. The Spanish
crew, from Swift Air, said the plane would not be flying.
Security Council trip to Africa in 2008, Swift Air declined to fly
from Goma after a UN Security officer fired his pistol inside the
plane to show that it was empty.
back into busses. The Ambassadors were taken to a mess hall in the
“Russian base” of UNMIS. Outside, Russian men did pull up in an
outdoor gym, stared at their visitors. Internet was offered but then
quickly taken back. “You will leave this office,” Inner City
Press was told. “This is the base commander, that's why he can
order you to leave.”
to where? The
press corp, now including four Sudanese journalists, got back into
the van. After a short drive, the UNMIS handler said that only the
traveling press should get off. A room of computers with UN intranet
awaited, along with room temperature chicken sandwiches, watermelon
slices in Cellophane.
sandwiches were finished were the Sudanese journalists let it. This
seemed strange, and it got stranger still. Once everyone filed into
the larger plane head for El Fasher in Darfur, it emerged that there
was an extra passenger. Rather than take roll call to figure out who
it was, a UN Security official told one of the Sudanese journalists,
you have to go. Why? If you don't go, we'll have to remove you
this, the UN
Security official grabbed the Sudanese journalist's backpack and
threw it on the floor. The journalist stood up, and asked his three
Sudanese colleagues to join him. All four
got their equipment and got
off the plane. Not a single Ambassador said anything.
Down Down ICC, Gambari and his trailers
the window the
landscape got more and more arid, with as it emerged some government
assault. At the El
Fasher airport, a dozen or so women chanted “Down,
Down ICC! Down, down USA!”
several reporters remarked. But outside at the gate, a much larger
protest waited. Khartoum controls the airport, Inner City Press was
told. They allowed the women in, and are allowing this. Inner City
Press took pictures.
convoy drove to
the “Super Camp” base of the joint African Union - UN Mission in
Darfur, UNAMID. There was a welcoming ceremony, ritual marching
around a triangle red carpet. Ibrahim Gambari, now the head of
UNAMID, waved to Inner City Press. He would be briefing the Council,
but only after a photo op.
Lights” restaurant -- run by a UN contractor -- the Ambassadors
look their seats, across from UNAMID officials. In the corner, Mark
Lyall Grant and Susan rice and Ruhakana Rugunda bickered with a
person later identified as UNAMID's Security Chief Reddy. Finally
they took their seats. After a few photos, Inner City Press was asked
Internet, even wireless, in an air conditioned trailer. Finally the
stories could be uploaded; Susan Rice and the pep rally, the ejection
of the journalists. The latter was quickly picked up by local media;
it became a touch stone of the trip.
Security Council dinner, but the press' tables were brought outside.
There was cold greasy chicken, cold fries, and a surprisingly good
lentil soup. All work must stop at 10 pm, Inner City Press was told. So
back to the Internet Cafe.
force commander came in. Gambari approached Inner City Press and
complained about the recent publication of leaked documents showing
Gambari close to turning over five supporters of Fur rebel
leaderrrrrr Abdel Wahid Nur, in exchange for a promise they will not
be executed by Omar al Bashir, already indicted by the International
at risk by pushing those documents,” Gambari said with some anger. Transciption
here, YouTube forthcoming.
putting the lives of the Kalma Five at risk, and setting a precedent
that other Strong men will act on.
Q & A was
over. There is a a curfew, on four wheel drive vehicles after 7 pm,
and all cars and pedestrians after 10. It's for security reasons,
Inner City Press was told. And lo and behold, a Hungarian UN staffer
was kidnapped just that day.
spokesman gave a hint but not
more. His boss Kamal Saiki, who Inner City Press met in the Congo in
2008, later gave exclusive information to one wire service, the
briefed the rest of the press the following morning.
Ambassadors stayed the VIP area -- called Guantanamo Bay -- of the
Super Camp, the press corps was drive off base with an armed escort
to a guesthouse the UN rents from a family who built it two years ago
for just this purpose. No one would say how much it cost, or how this
building and price was chosen over any other.
bugs, fridges stocked with water, no towels in the bathroom. There
was no Internet, but there was air conditioning and ceiling “Pak
Fans” made in, where else, Pakistan.
Of Super Camp and Wali, Food and Abu Shouk
Fasher in the
morning has chickens in the streets, the sun rising pink over mud
walled compounds. A UN van took reporters back to Super Camp, then
on a tour. The UN is building new subdivisions -- Gambari's real
estate dreams -- and his its own oil tanks and junkyards. Still, many UNAMID
staff are just depressed.
stopped, and the Ambassadors but not press changed from a bus into a
series of “hardened” four wheel drive vehicles. The convoy, which
had now grown to over 40 vehicles, headed out of Super Camp to the
compound of the Wali of North Darfur. There a small crowd of
protesters chanted against the ICC outside. Inside things had gotten
more plush since 2008, with a huge horseshoe table, speakers and
better air conditioning.
statistics about how crime in Darfur is down. He sounded like Rudy
Giuliani of New York, quipped Inner City Press. Lyall Grant responded
with statistics from another time frame. Then the Press was told to
had grown. There was dozen outside the meeting room, chanting a
series of slogans. One man chanted “Down, Down USA” but was
quickly corrected -- it's Down, Down ICC. He switched over.
there were hundreds chanting, including women and children. Inner
City Press walked the gauntlet filming. Finally the handlers took
press to the bus where they waited.
convoy inched across wasteland toward an IDP camp: Abu Shouk. The
other camp the UN wanted to visit was not brought up.
the Council met with IDPs. Lyall Grant's opening remarks, recorded by
Inner City Press, were nearly over when Susan Rice passed him a note.
Minutes later, Lyall Grant asked the Press to leave. Outside in the
heat, reporters took photos of camp children. What do you eat? one
asked them. “What do you want to be went you grow up?”
like you, said
one of the kids. They followed as reporters were led by on the bus.
They watched as reporters scarfed down cold hamburgers and hot dogs.
One of the UN interpreters - the one with silver suitcase -
approached the press bus. The door was opened.
said. “Journalists stuff their faces while starving children look
then he closed
the door. One reporter, chastened, handed his half eaten hamburger
out the window. Another vented about the interpreter's hypocrisy. The
mood as somehow changed.
another snaking of the forty vehicle convoy, into the real Au Shouk.
UN Peacekeepers with rocket propelled grenades led the way. “You
have five minutes,” the UN handler said. “The government of Sudan
might try to take your camera and arrest you. They did it to a
Japanese reporter recently. Why has the UN said nothing?
minutes, Inner City Press witnessed Vitaly Churkin asking camp
residents how long they had been there, and whether they were hungry.
explained that the UN World Food Program had cut the rations
given in half.
reporters were rebelling now. This remained so when the Press were
taken to the Saudi hospital the Council went to see, but were not
heat Gambari appeared in a 4 by 4 with guards. He told Inner City
Press he would try to give press access to a UN reception that night
in Khartoum. He would be flying there.
asked, by way of final confirmation, do you have a Lear Jet?
has to get around, he said. Then he got back in his 4 by 4, which on
the way out of the hospital compound drove through a patch of planted
melons, crushing at least three of them, which Inner City Press
been raised about hunger and the cutting of food rations in the Abu
Shouk camp, the UN's humanitarian coordinator for Sudan, Georg
Charpentier, came onto the bus.
He said there
wasn't really hunger in
Abu Shouk nor, after Inner City Press asked, in Jebel Marra or the
Kalma Camp. The latter, it emerged from documents Charpentier left
behind, that the UN has been to Eastern Jebel Marra only once in the
last months, and the Kalma camp is being dismantled.
Kalma Camp, Charpentier told Inner City Press, was “over
exaggerated.” And the problem in Jebel Marra, he not not food but
blankets for the cold. How does the UN know, if they are not allowed
the convoy went straight to the airport, for what was called the
final stakeout. Mark Lyall
Grant did it alone. Inner City Press asked
what guidance the Council had given to Gambari about his plan to turn
over the Kalma Five to the Bashir government, and what it would mean
for the freedom of movement of UNAMID peacekeepers, to areas like
this was not in the Council's terms of reference for the trip, that
it was up to Mr. Gambari. Inner City Press, when there was a lull,
tried to ask a follow up. “Let's give the last question to somebody
else.” Let's. There followed a long winded question in Arabic from
Sudanese government media.
speaking on off the record, a “Council diplomat” said something
about “ad hominen” reviews of Gambari.
journalist, a P-5 Ambassador questioned
the visit to the hospital. He
asked, what are we supposed to do about that?
Free Jazz and Graffiti, Photo Sprays and Protests, Present Tense
an hour of
looking down at the desert, during which time Brazil's Permanent
Representative talks happily with a seeming Braziling UN staffer on
her “one week after every six” vacation, Khartoum approaches,
with high rises and wide avenues. In the airport, there is greeting
party, and at the exit a protest of the ICC. The convoy speeds down a
wide avenue, past the Panda restaurant then U-turns to the hotel.
There is Internet, two hours worth.
Gambari's promise, the
press is not invited to the reception held that night. In search of
food, Inner City Press and two local journalists head to Papa Costa's
in downtown Khartoum. They have steak, Inner City Press a hamour
fished out of the Red Sea. A jazz quartet plays, including a soon to
leave UN system spokesman on electric bass. “It's not like this
every night in Khartoum,” one of the local journalists says
wistfully. Hey, it's not like this every night ANYWHERE.
back to the hotel, passing through a traffic circle, the local
journalists says “there used to be Al Qaeda graffiti here, which
the government left up for something like two years. But they
recently had it painted over.” A rapprochement with the US?
the Council's last one in Sudan, began at 9, or was supposed to.
Among those assembled at 8:50 with cameras and tripod is one of the
Sudanese journalists thrown off the UN plane in Juba. He praises the
article” and says he's getting calls from all over. He
doesn't want anything, though, from the UN system.
they say the “photo spray” is ready. It's not much of a spray: some
members of the South Sudan Referendum Commission sit on one side
of the room, with UNMIS chief Haile Menkerios. The Ambassadors sit on
the other side of the horseshoe. It's hard to get both sides into
“That was a
waste of time,” one of the videographers says. He mentions he's
heard there'll be a protest, he thinks in front of UNMIS half a mile
away. Inner City Press prepares to walk, but get a ride.
is in a
former military hospital now surrounded by barbed wire. They take
away Inner City Press' UN pass to go inside, where there are rooms
without electricity. This is never explained. Anyway there is no
demonstration here. Word is it's downtown. Back in the four by four
are bands of men in white turbans holding
banners and signs. Some are in English: Colonials are trying to draw
lines on Africa again. “Ocampo, why isn't the US a member of the
this last, one
Council diplomat said, “I agree with that.” The response was that
a sign also questions Israel's non membership. Without revealing
more, this comment was NOT made by the Perm Rep of Lebanon, who was
also on the trip.)
goes into the crowd to take
pictures and video.
Khartoum demo Oct 9, UN Security Council not shown,
The crowd is
generally friendly, holding out their banners to be filmed. There is
loud Sudanese jazz pumping from speakers; there is a live band on the
band stand that soon there will be speakers. But an actually meeting
at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has already begun. Inner City
Press speeds there, arriving half way through Foreign Minister Ali
Karti's Hard Line, What Does It All Comes To?
took a hard
line on Darfur, saying the government
would accept no preconditions
for negotiations -- this while the government is blasting away daily
at areas perceived as controlled by the Abdel Wahid Nur faction of
the SLA, for example. After Karti, Lyall Grant read out his speech,
once again reiterating the terms of reference for the Council's
nearly completed trip. Then the press was asked to leave.
the van, the
acting UNMIS public information officer spoke of a lunch his
replacement had invited the press to. But the focus was on filing
stories, particularly of the demonstration. The van did drive the
press corps back to the hotel and its wireless, somehow avoiding the
expanding area of the demonstration. There were two hours before, it
was now said, two of the Ambassadors would speak to the press, some
on the record and some on background.
course, is how to use the (bland) on the record quotes without
thereby identifying who said what on background. Suffice it to say,
one of the Ambassadors answered Inner City Press' question about
freedom of movement for UNAMID by confirming that the Sudanese
authorities and UNAMID conveniently by consensus blocked the Council
from visiting the Shangil Tobaya IDP camp, saying it was “not
controlled by the government.”
those precisely the type
of people the Council should be hearing from?
Ambassador responded with platitudes to the question of Gambari's
planned turn over of Nur supporters to the government, saying that
Gambari had told this Ambassador and others -- seemingly not in a
session with the full Council -- that he would only effectuate the
transfer in conformance with international humanitarian law and the
UN's principles, whatever those are (after Srebrinica and Rwanda, it
is hard to be sure).
“background” remarks were embargoed until 5:30, when the final
final press conference was to begin. One wondered if this applied to
what France's new Deputy Permanent Representative, also in the room,
said on the side to “his” wire service, Agence France Presse.
Press wrote its Shangil
Tobaya story and got ready. Camera
crews set up. The outgoing UNMIS public information office said
anyone who wanted to ask questions should come to the microphone.
about the destruction of villages and the dismantling of Kalma Camp
in Darfur among other issues, Inner City Press rushed over. Second in
line at the microphone and first with hand raised for questions,
Inner City Press was nevertheless not called on. The UN's own media
was given a question. All questions taken regarding the South Sudan
referendum: not a single question on Darfur. So what was accomplished
on the trip?
the end of the
press conference, Inner City Press began to ask, no questions on
Darfur? The liaison from the spokesperson's office in New York, who
has earlier collected a $15
exit tax from each member of the
delegation, shook his head, later stating that a decision had been
made to take questions only or mostly from the local press -- perhaps
in ill-conceived payback for the UN having thrown all the Sudanese
journalists off the UN plane in Juba. But the journalists called on
were not the journalists excluded: at least one, in facts, work for
rushed to the airport , where the remaining Ambassadors stood around
in the VIP lounge. Turkey's Permanent Representative Apakan at the
hotel said goodbye, that he was going back to Turkey. Ambassador
Claude Heller of Mexico marveled at “the complexity,” said he was
a “junior diplomat” at the UN when the General Assembly voted to
replace Taiwan with Mainland China.
Khartoum arrived with two body guards. Sudan's Permanent
Representative and his Deputy were there. The former was screamed at
by Susan Rice. The
part Inner City Press heard, first, was about the
$15. The Sudanese Perm Rep said to Inner City Press, by way of
farewell, that the money would be refunded.
reporter told Inner City Press that the fight had initially been
about Sudan's request that Susan Rice's staffers and perhaps Ms. Rice
herself go through the metal detector. There is no basis for
objecting regarding the staffers. As to Ambassadors, another P-5 Perm
Rep said he had no objection to the metal detectors, “there are
terrorists, you know.” This was seen as a dig at Susan Rice and the
off, avoiding an incoming sandstorm, and landed in Dubai. In the
airport Inner City Press asked two P-5 Perm Reps about the
of Sora village and dismantling of Kalma Camp.
hadn't heard about the destruction in any of the Council's meetings.
The second said it was up to UNAMID to confirm the village's
destruction and whether it happened by air. And if it did? What would
the Council do?
took off, with one of the Security officials and Inner City Press
left behind in Dubai. The Permanent Representative of Bosnia
graciously tried to help the (female) Security official, but to no
avail. The extra airport time was used to write this exit report.
return of the $15 dollars, what was accomplished,
particularly on Darfur? And what questions should be asked in New
York? Let us know, and watch this site.