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In Nigeria, Inner City Press Asked UN If Amina J. Mohammed Raised Refoulement, Told No, Now This

By Matthew Russell Lee, Video, 1st Person, this

UNITED NATIONS, March 26 -- The deference of the UN system's and many of its member states to Cameroon's corrupt 36-year president Paul Biya, and their complicity in his recent crackdown, continues. UN Deputy Secretary General Amina J. Mohammed was in Abuja as 47 people were illegally refouled to Cameroon;  she has been silent on that, as on continuing restrictions on the Press in her UN. She was back in Abuja. But when Inner City Press asked once again at the March 26 noon briefing, there was nothing on the refoulement. Here's what was said: Inner City Press: went to… to Abuja for the two days before she went to the Czech Republic, did the issue… I saw that she actually tweeted how she's concerned about UN staff being detained and that's… without reason.  The 47 individuals that were refouled from Nigeria to Cameroon and haven't been seen since, was this issue raised?  Did she have any headway on it?

Deputy Spokesman:  She did raise the issue of the situation of the… in Anglophone Cameroon more generally with her interlocutors.  So she has raised that while she was in Nigeria." More generally? To Nigeria? Then, after the briefing, in the way it refused to directly answer Inner City Press' questions on March 23 about irregularities in the UN procurement of drones in the DRC except by reading a statement at the March 26 noon briefing, the UN mass-sent this out: "Activities of the Deputy Secretary–General in Nigeria, 23-25 March
United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed undertook a two-day visit to Federal Republic of Nigeria from the evening of 23 to the morning of 25 March, during which she met with President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja and interacted with other Senior Officials and stakeholders in Lagos.
The President and the Deputy Secretary-General discussed four main issues:
On the situation in Cameroon and the status of Cameroonian Refugees in Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari and the Deputy Secretary-General agreed on the need to respect international obligations on the rights of refugees and asylum seekers, the Cameroonians in particular. They also called for the respect of the guarantee of fair and humane treatment of those recently arrested and deported to Cameroon.
On preparations for the 2019 elections and expected support from the United Nations, President Muhammadu Buhari welcomed continuous support from the United Nations and assured the Deputy Secretary-General of his commitment to ensuring credible, free and fair elections in Nigeria.
On the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement, President Muhammadu Buhari assured the Deputy Secretary-General of the country’s intention to sign the agreement following national consultations.
On the humanitarian and security situation in the North East, President Muhammadu Buhari and the Deputy-Secretary welcomed the speedy return of the recently abducted girls from Dapchi, and highlighted the need for particular attention to be given to securing schools through the  accelerated implementation of the Safe School Initiative .  
The Deputy Secretary-General departed Abuja for Prague on 25 March 2018." So Buhari illegally sent them to Cameroon and now calls, though "his" Amina J. Mohammad, "
They also called for the respect of the guarantee of fair and humane treatment of those recently arrested and deported to Cameroon." This is a scam.  As Cameroon purported to hold Senatorial elections amid the crackdown in the North-West and South-West Regions, it state media regulator, through the state TV, instructs all media on “The need for media reports to favor social cohesion, peace, national unity integration... The need for media content to reflect the present administrative and political disposition.” So, censorship. Meanwhile, Inner City Press hs appealed the UK Foreign Office's denial in full of Inner City Press' Freedom of Information request about Cameroon, as well as Yemen. We'll have more on this. On March 22, Inner City Press asked Nigeria's Permanent Representative to the UN Tijjani Muhammad Bande about the 47 people. Video here. He replied that he cannot answer, he doesn't know all the facts. "I would need information" about it, he said, "I am looking for verification."

Really? Isn't it his government, even more than (still) the government of Amija J. Mohammed. Still Tijjani Muhammad Bande UNlike Amina . Mohammed at least took the question, along with Niger's affable Ambassador Abdallah Wafy and offered some response. Amina J. Mohammed hasn't responded on that, on the CITES issues, or on this. On March 23 Inner City Press asked the Spokesman for Antonio "Golden Statue" Guterres and Amina J. "Rosewood" Mohammed, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: at the stakeout yesterday, the ambassador… the Permanent Representative of Nigeria, Tijjani Muhammad Bande, I asked him about these 47 people that were sent back to Cameroon, that… that UNHCR [Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees] has said were sent back, and criticized.  He said he doesn't have any information on it.  I'm wondering, given that the Deputy Secretary-General is going to be in Abuja, is this one of the issues that she's going to try to get an answer to?

Spokesman:  She had raised it with various officials in the past.

Inner City Press:  But now, the Government is taking they don't know?

Spokesman:  I'm not aware that she plans to raise it.  If anything changes, I will let you know." What, to SABC?  On March 19, while constrained with a minder and a roped in cage, Inner City Press asked UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Prince Zeid if he had any updated death count, since he stopped at 10. Video here. He replied he needs to look at the statistics, I can't recall, the important issue is to have access. Inner City Press pointed to the visit or access of UN envoy Francois Lounseny Fall (who equated secessionists with extremists, justifying the crackdown). Zeid replied "like in West Papua, I am asking for access." But not asking as loudly as elsewhere. On March 19 Inner City Press asked Antonio Guterres' spokesman Staphane Dujarric, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: since you're going to look into the Deputy Secretary-General's trip to Nigeria, I'd wanted to know, previously, when she was there, the issue of the 47 Cameroonian — many of them UNHCR [Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees], you know, accredited or whatever — designated refugees being refouled to Cameroon, [will she ask, [oes the UN know any more about where those 47 people are… Spokesman:  Nothing more than what we've said at the time." Can you head the golden statue Guterres accepted from Biya in October, and Amina J. Mohammed calling Buhari "my president"? The UN has enabled Biya in equating Boko Haram with the restorationist forces, as he did in his cabinet meeting on March 15 with this line: "Thanks to the firm action of our defense and security forces, we have been able to drastically curb the atrocities perpetrated by criminal groups in the Far North, North-West and South-West Regions." The violence in the Far North is entirely different from that in
North-West and South-West Regions. But it was the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' envoy Francois Lounceny Fall who equated separatists with extremists; it was Guterres who stopped by Yaounde and took Biya's golden statue back in October. On March 16, Inner City Press asked Guterres' deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: since it's so rare, I got asked today.  The President of Cameroon, Paul Biya, held his a Cabinet meeting for the first time since 2015, second one in the last six years, and one of the quotes coming out of it is to congratulate his defence and security forces for their… to drastically curb the atrocities perpetrated by criminal groups in the far north, north-west, and south-west regions.  And "the far north" seems to be a reference to Boko Haram, but "north-west" and "south-west" are the Anglophone regions, where there's a dispute about whether that part of the country is… actually is part of Cameroon.  So I wanted to know, given what's been said by François Fall and others about dialogue, if they took note of the speech, if they have any thought on it.  And I had also… and also on the issue that you had been talking about, about investigating leaks, I wanted to ask a very specific question.  If an internal UN memo concerning Cameroon, not submitted by the Government of Cameroon, but simply the UN's own analysis on why it might make sense to not speak out or to speak out, were to be leaked, is that the type of leak that would be investigated, since you said that it's done at the behest of or in order to protect Member States' ability to give information to the UN, if I understood you correctly?

Deputy Spokesman:  And part of what I said is that those are decisions to be taken ultimately by the managers who deal with the various files.  I wouldn't answer on any particular hypothetical circumstance.

Inner City Press: But is there any guidance… I know… Is there any guidance from the top of… are there cases where, from the top, the UN would say this is not an appropriate thing to investigate because it chills whistle-blowers?

Deputy Spokesman:  Obviously, you're aware of what the whistle-blower protections are, and all managers are aware of those.  Regarding your question on Cameroon and the behaviour of the security forces, we've also made clear our concerns about any excessive use of force, and we want to make sure both that security forces, wherever they're deployed, avoid excessive use of force, abide by international human rights norms, and in this particular case, of course, we want to make sure that nothing is done to forestall any efforts at dialogue.  Have a good weekend, everyone." Guterres is in Lisbon, again, for the weekend. Cameroon's UN ambassador Tommo Monthe is back - he said he was in Kingston for "the Seabed" - ready to chair the UN budget committee which plays host to Guterres' "reform" proposals.
The Biya government is destroying historic places like Boa Bakundu, alongside the illegal refoulement to Yaounde from Nigeria, and other ongoing crackdowns. The UN's Central Africa representative Francois Lounceny Fall, who on UN Radio equated secessionists and extremists then ran from Press questions in UN Headquarters, deigned to visit Buea, along with the UN's resident coordinator Allegra Maria Del Pilar Baiocchi, more focused on promoting the UN than trying to prevent conflict and the killing of civilians. She has tweeted photos about the visit, nothing on the burned motor bikes and people, much less the illegal refoulement. The same was true of the visit of Guterres' Assistant Secretary General Ursula Mueller of Germany. She didn't got to the Anglophone areas, her trip was quickly follow by a German government KFW contribution to other parts of the country and now it emerges that the website of the Germany embassy in Cameroon, while purportedly in both French and English, has virtually no information to apply for a visa in English. In fact, the site says "This Website is currently under construction. In the meantime, please check our french or german Website version for more Information regarding the visa procedure." Photo here. This in a country that is purportedly bilingual. We'll have more on this.  From the UN's February 28 transcript: Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you about Cameroon.  I've seen that François Fall has… or at least his office is tweeting that he's in the south-west region in Buea, saying he's having some great meetings.  Given that the Government side there has asked for a… for a… an alert and that young people's motorcycles are being burned, destroying their livelihood, I'm just wondering, are we going to get a readout?  Was that said in advance…? Spokesman:  Let me see what I can get. Inner City Press: It seems like Mr. Feltman didn't actually know it was taking place.  I tried-- Spokesman:  Well, he may not be the only one.  I was not aware of the visit." A full 24 hours later, without sending Inner City Press any update or response to its question, Dujarric at the noon briefing read this out: "Turning to Cameroon, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Central Africa, François Louncény Fall, is indeed in Cameroon to consult on and assess recent developments in the south-west and north-west regions of the country and encourage a peaceful resolution of the crisis through dialogue and in accordance with international standards of human rights and humanitarian law. Mr. Fall held consultations in Yaoundé, in Douala and in the two concerned regions, including with Government officials, political stakeholders, the diplomatic corps and civil society, among others.  His visit to Cameroon will end on 4 March." Inner City Press asked, vide here, UN transcript here: Inner City Press:  on Cameroon, on the thing you read out? What I wanted to know is that… you know, it all sounds great and thanks for coming back with the statement.  It seems like at the same time that he's there with this statement, the Government is actually deploying its special forces to… to increasingly militarize the conflict.  So I wanted to know, did… did he witness that while he was there? Spokesman:  I'm not aware that [he witnessed it]… Inner City Press:  Did he raise the issue of the… what he had called separatists, what they call restorationist leaders, that are… have been detained and not seen for months? Spokesman:  I think the situation in the Anglophone area was raised, as we said it was.  Thank you." So what DID Fall witness? Guterres' humanitarian deputy official Ursula Mueller offered "congratulations" to Biya's foreign minister Mbella Mbella. Photo and UNanswered Press question here. Now on February 26 after four day Mueller has issued a funding plea for Biya's Cameroon, with a perfunctory reference to the western regions at the end: "Concluding a four-day visit to Cameroon, the United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Ursula Mueller, called on the international community and the Government to step up support to humanitarian actions in the country. During the visit, she met with the Minister of External Relations and the Governor of the Far North.... Ms. Mueller’s visit was also an opportunity to discuss other crises that Cameroon is facing, with an increased influx of refugees from the Central African Republic and sociopolitical tensions in the north-west and south-west regions." Yeah. This comes after Inner City Press asked Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric if Mueller would stop in the Anglophone zones, and since not, why not? He replied that the overall humanitarian situation would be discussed. So on February 23, Inner City Press asked Dujarric again, video here, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: I had asked you before Ursula Mueller's trip, whether the… the situation in the anglophone zones of Cameroon would come up, and I just want to say I saw… I guess she tweeted a picture of herself with the Foreign Minister of Cameroon yesterday, saying… congratulating the Cameroon Government, entirely positive.  And I just wanted to know… you seemed… you seemed to indicate that the overall humanitarian situation would arise.  Given even… even on the issue of refugees, given that there were 47 people sent back seemingly illegally, refouled from Nigeria, is this… is she unaware of that in giving these congratulations? Spokesman:  Her mission focused on the Lake Chad Basin, on the situation in the Lake Chad Basin which, as you know, has led to mass… to a humanitarian situation that's impacted at least 10 million people.  She discussed a wide range of humanitarian concerns with the government of Cameroon, including the Boko Haram crisis in the far north, the situation of refugees from the CAR [Central African Republic] in the east, and the growing food insecurity across the country, as well as the situation in the Anglophone regions."  Really? With congratulations, echoes of the golden statue that Guterres took in October? Meanwhile in Nigeria people are being prosecuted for sheltering refugees from Cameroon, and Guterres and the UN are silent. We'll have more on this. A new report details Biya's long stays outside of the country in Geneva, while his military kills Anglophones and the country declines. Biya has spent four and a half years in Geneva, at a cost of $65 million in hotel fees and $117 million for chartered private plane, sometimes left "on stand-by" for weeks at a time. The report goes one level down: "One of Biya’s closest confidants, Joseph Fouda, a military officer and special advisor, has accompanied him on at least 86 trips, amounting to more than three years of travel since 1993. He prefers a room on a top floor of the Intercontinental. Another close confidant, Martin Belinga Eboutou, 78, has spent nearly three years travelling with the president starting in 1987, when he was Cameroon’s ambassador to Morocco. The president attempted to buy a brand new private jet in 2004, but his staff reportedly cut corners on the deal, buying a defective plane covered by a fresh coat of paint that nearly crashed on its first flight. Since then, the president has chartered at least several private aircraft, including a luxury jet formerly owned by the government of Kazakhstan." Still UN Secretary General, himself a murky first class flyer, smilingly took Biya's golden statue and has done nothing; his advisers Khassim Diagne and the outgoing head of Political Affairs have assured him of Biya's bona fides or the wisdom of doing... nothing. The UN has failed. The UN refugee agency UNHCR in Abuja early on January 30 told Inner City Press that it has as yet no comment on the blatant forced repatriation or refoulement to Cameroon of Sisiku Ayuk Tabe and 46 others while it seeks "explanations through official channels." (Later UNHCR issued a short statement.) On January 31, Inner City Press again asked UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' Spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here and below. When Inner City Press on February 8 put the refoulement question to Francois Delattre, the UN Ambassador of France which has supported Paul Biya's 36-year rule, Delattre replied that "We always have views but no comment from me at this stage." Video here. That is irresponsible - or another sign of France's responsibility for what is happening in the region. We'll have more on this - and now on Germany. Angela Merkel's "personal representative for Africa" Gunter Nooke showed up in Yaounde on February 15 trying as he does elsewhere to drum up business. With him was Ambassador Hans Dieter Stell; there was according to CRTV "the exchange of gifts symbolic of Cameroon's legendary hospitality." Another golden statue like UNSG Guterres took? At UN headquarters, as Inner City Press alone asked, Germany's Ambassador procured a publicly funded post for his wife by merely emailing Guterres' chief of staff. Inner City Press asked Dujarric and his deputy Haq - no real answer - while the only other question asked about it was how the information about the job had leaked. The media asking that is given full access to the UN by the UN Department of Public Information of British Alison Smale, a major Germanophile who continues to have Inner City Press restricted, its long time work space given to a no-show no-question Egyptian state media. We'll have more on this.

The United Kingdom's silence about the plight of Anglophone residents of the former British Southern Cameroons persists even in the face of a Freedom of Information Act request from Inner City Press.

More than five months ago on 15 August 2017 Inner City Press asked the UK government for records concerning Cameroon. After repeatedly extending the time to response, now the UK has denied access to all responsive records, letter here, saying that "the release of information relating to the UK’s discussion on UN business could harm our relations and other member states of the United Nations (UN)."

Here on Patreon is the full denial letter, from which Inner City Press is preparing an appeal, on Yemen as well - it has 40 working days.

This is shameful - the UK is also exiting transparency.

On February 6 in front of the UN Security Council, Inner City Press asked the United Kingdom's Deputy Ambassador Jonathan Allen for the UK's comment on Nigeria's forced repatriation of 47 to Cameroon. From the UK transcript: Inner City Press: Nigeria did a forced repatriation of 47 Cameroonian leaders. The UNHCR said it was illegal. The US has commented on it. Does the UK have any view? Amb Allen: I’m afraid I wasn’t aware of that before. I’ll have to get back to you on the details." Video here. At day's end, a UK Mission spokesperson sent Inner City Press a short comment, here.

As Inner City Press pursues these questions at the UN, again it remains restricted to minders by the head of the UN Department of Public Information Alison Smale, who it is noted is British - and functionally a censor. A retaliator, too? As noted, Smale has not explained why Inner City Press' long time work space is assigned to no-show, no-question Egyptian state media Akhbar al Youm.

On Cameroon and Yemen, UK Denies Inner City Press FOIA Request After 170 Days, Preparing to Appeal, 40 Work... by Matthew Russell Lee on Scribd

Meanwhile the French government, which claims at the UN and elsewhere that human rights is in its DNA, has ignored the refoulement, limited its condemnation instead, via
Foreign ministry spokeswoman Agnes Von der Muhll, on "new killings of law enforcement officials that took place on 1 February in Cameroon."

In Yaounde, France's Ambassador Gilles Thibault is focusing, like Reuters' ostensibly charitable arm, on the cultivation of pepper, see here. This is colonialism.Are these the relations that the UK claims would be hurt by complying with FOIA? Watch this site.


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