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As Sudan Bombs, UN Stonewalls, US Dodges

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 7 -- On Sudan, the UN turns away from killing and abuse while the US downplays it. On December 7, Inner City Press asked the UN spokesman, the US' PJ Crowley and the US Mission to the UN about bombings by Khartoum, with a range of evasive answers and non-answers.

  At the UN's Tuesday noon briefing, Inner City Press asked spokesman Martin Nesirky:

Inner City Press: There have been — the SPLM [Sudan People’s Liberation Movement] has come out and said that, now Monday and Tuesday of this week, that Khartoum has bombed West Bahr El-Ghazal State and they’re calling for a UN investigation and saying this could throw the referendum off track. What has UNMIS [United Nations Mission in Sudan] done to investigate it and what does UN say to this call for an investigation?

Spokesperson Nesirky: Well, as far as I know from UNMIS, they have been informed by the SPLA [Sudan People’s Liberation Army] that an aerial bombing took place yesterday, 15 miles north-east of Timsaha. And a monitoring and verification team led by UNMIS is on the ground trying to verify the incident. So that’s as much as I have at the moment.

Inner City Press: What about this thing that I asked you yesterday about the transitional Darfur regional authority being raided by the Sudanese authorities in Darfur? Does Mr. [Ibrahim] Gambari or UNAMID [African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur], have they been able in the many hours since that happened to confirm it?

Spokesperson Nesirky: I don’t have anything specific for you on that at the moment, no. Okay?

[The Spokesperson later added that, at this stage, the Mission is looking into the possible implications of recent statements and actions by the Government of Sudan and the Sudan Armed Forces and will discuss it with the Government.]

  Actually, it's NOT okay -- the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary General delivered this belated (non) response not at the briefing or by email afterward, but by an in-house squawk system not audible at the Security Council where Inner City Press and other reporters were.

When US Ambassador Susan Rice emerged from the Council and delivered a short statement about Ivory Coast, Inner City Press asked one question on that topic, then asked repeated, “A question on Sudan?” Ambassador Rice smiled but walked away from the microphone.

Inner City Press conveyed the question -- what will the US do about the SPLM's call for a Security Council investigation of the bombings, during this month when the US is the Council President -- but four hours after delivery, there was still no answer. We will report it when one arrives.

UN's Ban and Gambari, reports on Khartoum abuses in Darfur and USUN actions not shown

US State Department Spokesman PJ Crowley came to New York on Tuesday to address reporters, largely about Wikileaks. Inner City Press asked about Crowley's December 15 negative response to a question if there were “any” US military operations in Yemen, in light of the December 17 drone attacks in Yemen (Crowley said his response was only about the Houthi), and about Sudan and the bombings.

Crowley barely addressed the bombings, but said that the South Sudan referendum would be one of the biggest events of the first half of 2011, and could help or hurt the situation in Darfur. But what about the situation now, and the UN's and envoy Ibrahim Gambari's inaction?

Inner City Press asked Human Rights Watch's Richard Dicker about Gambari's recent actions, attending Bashir's inauguration and negotiating to hand over to Bashir five supporters of Fur rebel Abdel Wahid Nur. Video here, from Minute 41:30. Dicker said that it seems “Gambari is violating policy.” Seems? Watch this site.

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On Sudan, UN Won't Confirm Darfur Attacks, US Still Nothing on 12 Murders in Unity

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 6 -- As the Darfur Peace Agreement unravels and the pace of death escalates in South Sudan the UN, and surprising to some the US are slow and reticent to investigate and comment.

On December 6, Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Martin Nesirky about Omar al Bashir's targeting of his one ally in Darfur, Minni Minawi:

Inner City Press: in Sudan over the weekend, the President [Omar al-]Bashir Government has raided the offices of the transitional Darfur regional authority and has said Minni Minawi’s faction is now a target, a military target for the Government, if previously they were an ally of the Darfur Peace Agreement, and that they’re going to the South and will now be fighting. What is the comment of the UN on the total unravelment of the Darfur Peace Agreement?

Spokesperson Nesirky: I have seen the reports. I don’t have any specific comment at the moment. But I know that my colleagues are checking with the Mission on that. But we’ve certainly seen the reports.

Inner City Press: Okay. And they’re going to try to verify this raid on the transitional Darfur regional authority?

Spokesperson: I’ve heard what you’ve said, and certainly we’ll try to check on that.

Hours later, there was no confirmation. On December 3, the UN belatedly confirmed to Inner City Press the death of 10 SPLM soldiers and two civilians in South Sudan:

Sudan authorities riding high, UN confirmation and US comment not shown

Inner City Press: there is a report that the SPLA [Sudan People’s Liberation Army] is saying that 12 of their soldiers have been killed in an ambush by government-supported militias in Unity state. So, it seems like it’s a pretty high number in a big clash. I wonder if it’s something the UN has heard of and can confirm or deny or is going to go verify it.

Spokesperson Nesirky: Well, what I have been told is that we are aware that an SPLA truck with approximately 35 soldiers and their families was reportedly ambushed by an unknown group around 8 o’clock. This was on 1 December between Tamoa and Tubarit in Unity State, as you said, while traveling from Mayom to Bentiu — excuse my pronunciation of these places — a joint monitoring team that comprised SAF [Sudan Alliance Forces] and SPLA and led by the UN Mission in Sudan that went to Bentiu hospital where most of the casualties were brought by an SPLA truck. And the first report by that monitoring team confirms that 11 people were killed on the spot. And then one died in the hospital I just referred to. Ten people were wounded. However, the identity of the attackers is still not known. The team, I mean, the monitoring team, will be conducting patrols to the incident site and will meet with SPLA commanders and local authorities to try to further investigate this. That’s what I have for you.

Inner City Press: But does, I mean, I guess without knowing, the SPLA has said that they believe it’s a government-backed militia, and I just wonder, does the UNMIS [United Nations Mission in the Sudan] see any connection between this and the upcoming referendum? Is this viewed [inaudible]?

Spokesperson: As I’ve said, they’re investigating it.

  After this at least partial confirmation, Inner City Press on December 3 e-mailed the US Mission to the UN, this month's Security Council presidency, to ask both for US comment on the killings, and if the Council would take them up. As of the close of the Council's business on December 6 there was no answer. Watch this site.

 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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