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123 NGOs & Sudan Experts Call for Ladsous' Ouster After Cover Ups in Darfur

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 22, more here -- Amid the cover up of rapes in Darfur by UN Peacekeeping, whose chief Herve Ladsous met with Sudan's International Criminal Court - indicted president Omar al Bashir without ever explaining why, 123 non-governmental organizations and human rights experts and activists have called for Ladsous to be fired. Ladsous video here, Vine here.

   Inner City Press has obtained the letter and published it below. This follows UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon taking no questions about Darfur or Sudan during his December 17 press conference (at which, as noted by the Free UN Coalition for Access, Ban seemed to have the content of questions in advance.)

  The letter is copied to the presidents / prime minister, foreign ministers and UN ambassadors of the US, UK and France. How will they respond, particularly France which installed Ladsous atop UN Peacekeeping after their first selection, Jerome Bonnafont, was rejected at the last minute by the UN? And how might this new outspokenness of NGOs impact attempts to install Andrew Lansley atop the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs?

  The letter saays, "The result has been a vastly expensive and discredited UN mission, led by Herve Ladsous, who consistently and deliberately diminishes the scale of the conflict in Darfur, thereby enabling Khartoum’s crimes to flourish, whilst the international community congratulates itself on improved circumstances in Darfur."

  The letter's final paragraph begins, "At the very least Herve Ladsous should not continue his role at the UN DPKO."

  Here is the letter, about which we will have more:

Mr Ban Ki-Moon

Secretary-General of the United Nations

22 December 2014

Dear Secretary-General

Re the ICC arrest warrant for President al Bashir

We are a group of NGOs, individuals, representatives of Sudanese political parties and interested partners.

We write regarding the announcement by the ICC Chief Prosecutor that she is suspending new investigations in the cases of President al Bashir and those Sudanese officials indicted for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

We share the Chief Prosecutor’s frustration that members of the United Nations Security Council have

demonstrated an insufficient engagement with the ICC’s repeated demands for international co-operation in holding to account those indicted for their part in gross violations of human rights in Darfur. It is notable that even signatories to the Rome Statute have ignored their obligations to bring President al Bashir and his fellow Sudanese indictees to justice.

However, we fear that the Chief Prosecutor’s intervention will only serve to embolden the Sudanese armed forces and their proxies in their systematic campaign to ethnically cleanse Sudan of those they wish to eliminate. Fatou Bensouda’s attempt to shine a spotlight on the UN Security Council, whilst temporarily suspending investigations, has already had the unfortunate consequence of making those responsible for atrocities in Sudan believe that they have won the moral battle. They now compute that killing, bombing, raping, burning, intimidating, and looting can be continued with impunity.

The UN Security Council has had many opportunities to enforce numerous resolutions on Darfur from 2004 onward concerned with pressing the Sudanese government to stop bombing and attacking its own unarmed civilians. However, the Security Council has consistently refrained from enforcing resolutions giving permission to impose targeted smart sanctions and travel bans on the architects of the ethnic cleansing in Darfur. Consequently, those indicted by the ICC have continued to travel without fear of arrest; their assets could have been frozen, according to the UNSC’s resolutions, and yet no action has been taken, despite the repeated refusal of indictees to make good their promises to the UNSC and to you personally.

One disturbing aspect of the UNSC’s reluctance to press the government of Sudan to obey international treaties and conventions it has signed has been the failure to demand that the Khartoum regime investigate the deaths of UNAMID personnel and to bring to justice those responsible. Nothing has been done to follow up expressions of concern following the killing of the UN’s own staff by proxies closely associated with the Sudanese regime. The signal this sends the Sudanese regime is one of only a token gesture. Unsurprisingly those indicted by the ICC have concluded they can ignore these statements and continue perpetrating atrocities with no accountability.

Another consequence of the UN lack of consistent and meaningful pressure on the government of Sudan is that UNAMID has been rendered impotent. While its personnel know they cannot count on support from New York when they are prevented from performing their duties by Sudanese officials, they will be unwilling to risk their lives by trying to fulfil their mandate to protect civilians and report on suspected human rights abuses. The result has been a vastly expensive and discredited UN mission, led by Herve Ladsous, who consistently and deliberately diminishes the scale of the conflict in Darfur, thereby enabling Khartoum’s crimes to flourish, whilst the international community congratulates itself on improved circumstances in Darfur.

It is against this background that President al Bashir has felt at ease traveling the world, breaking his promises to the UNSC, and making fools of the international community. The Sudanese leader has perceived weakness, indifference and insincerity, and has pressed on with his policy of ethnic cleansing the minorities of Sudan.

At the very least Herve Ladsous should not continue his role at the UN DPKO. Moreover, if the UNSC is to have any credibility in future it must begin to enforce the smart targeted sanctions, asset freezes and travel bans on those indicted by the ICC. If member states refuse to co-operate, they should face penalties accordingly. This is a wake-up call to the UNSC and to your office personally: to redeem credibility, it is time to apply sustained and genuine pressure on those indicted by the ICC. We have long since appealed to the UN to help save the lives of millions at risk in Darfur. This plea has so far gone unanswered. Hence we hope a direct request to you and your office, the UNSC and the head of the UN DPKO will command the attention it deserves.

Yours sincerely

1. Waging Peace, Olivia Warham MBE, Director (UK)

2. Voice for Nyala, Elena Ghizzo, Coordinator (UK)

3. Darfur Development Agenda, Saifeldin Nemir (YEMEN)

4. Article 1, Madeleine Crowther, Research, Refugee & Campaigns Assistant (UK)

5. Darfur Bar Association, Abdelrahman Mohamed Gasim , Protection and External Relations

6. Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART), Baroness Cox House of Lords and CEO (UK)

7. Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART), Alice Robinson, Advocacy and Communications Manager

8. Zarga Organization for Rural Development, Mustafa Adam Ahmed, Director (UK)

9. Darfur Victims Organization for Rehabilitation and Relief (DVORR), Ishag Mekki, Chair (UK)

10. Eric Reeves, Professor, Smith College & Sudan Expert (USA)

11. The Elsa-Gopa Trust, Nell Okie, Director (USA)

12. Congolese Genocide Awareness (CGA), Anthony Kasongo, Executive Director (USA)

13. Religious Liberty Program and Church Alliance for a New Sudan, Faith J. H. McDonnell, Director,

14. Sudan Unlimited, Esther Sprague, Director (USA)

15. Never Again Coalition, Lauren Fortgang and Diane Koosed, Co-Chairs (USA)

16. Hamid E. Ali, PhD, Associate Professor and Department Chair, Department of Public Policy and

17. Justice & Equality Movement Sudan (JEM), Gebreil I M Fediel, Chairperson

18. Darfur Humanitarian Advocacy Australia, Eltayeb Mohamed Ali Abdelrahim, President

19. National Sudanese Women Alliance in Diaspora , Suhair Sharif, Chairwoman (UK)

20. Jews Against Genocide, New York, Eileen Weiss, Co-Founder (USA)

21. New York Coalition for Sudan, Neiki Ullah, Communications Director (USA)

22. Sudan Advocacy Action Forum, Dr. Eleanor Wright, Moderator (USA)

23. Give Back Project, Waleed Abdallah, Project manager (UK)

24. Beja Congress UK , Mohammed Alhalengy (UK)

25. Idaho Darfur Coalition, Marcia Prasch, Co-Founder (USA)

26. The House of the Lord Churches, Rev. Dr. Herbert Daughtry, National Presiding Minister (USA)

27. Umma National Party of Sudan, Mariam Alsadig Almahdi, Vice President

28. Sudanese Community Church of Denver, The Rev Dr Oja B Gafour, PhD, Vicar (USA)

29. African Freedom Coalition, New York City, Al Sutton MD, President (USA)

30. Brooklyn Coalition for Darfur & Marginalized Sudan, USA, Laura Limuli, Coordinator (USA)

31. Genocide Watch, Dr Gregory H. Stanton, President & Professor, George Mason University (USA)

32. Women Voice for Peace in Sudan, Mastora Bakhiet (USA)

33. Ubuntu Women Institute USA, Sunday Taabu, Founder (USA)

34. Stop Genocide Now, Gabriel Stauring, Founder (USA)


Institute on Religion and Democracy (USA)

Administration, The American University in Cairo (EGYPT)


35. Ahmed H Adam, Visiting Fellow, Institute for African Development, Cornell University (USA)

36. Unite for Darfur Organization, Bahar Arabie, CEO (USA)

37. Darfur Interfaith Network, Martha Boshnick (USA)

38. Raga Gibreel, Green Kordofan, Founder (UK)

39. Darfur Australia Network (DAN), Guna Subramaniam (AUSTRALIA)

40. Women From The Far West, Mariam shaw, Founder (UK)

41. Darfur Association in Uganda, Mohamed Ishaq Abdulshafi, President (UGANDA)

42. Sudan Broad National Front, Mr Ali Mahmoud Hassanein, Chairman

43. Namaa Al-Mahdi, Member of the National Umma Party Executive Committee (USA)

44. Darfur Union UK & Ireland, Muatasim Mahadi, Chairman (UK)

45. Darfur Union UK & Ireland, Motaz Bargo, Secretary General (UK)

46. Darfur Center for Transitional Justice & Peace Studies, Dr Enas Osman Ahmed,

Executive Director (USA)

47. Sudan Liberation Movement Second Revolution, Abdellatife Ismail, Deputy Chairman (UK)

48. SUDO, Osman Mansour, Coordinator (UK)

49. Voice of Darfur Women, Mariam Suliman, Chairperson (UK)

50. Nuba Now, Claire Budd (UK)

51. Georgia Coalition to Prevent Genocide, Melanie Melkin, Chair, (USA)

52. Pittsburgh Darfur Emergency Coalition, David Rosenberg, Coordinator (USA)

53. Dear Sudan, Love Marin, Gerri Miller, Founder and Coordinator (USA)

54. San Francisco Bay Area Darfur Coalition, Mohamed Suleiman, President (USA)

55. Commission of Protection of Civilians and Promotion of Women and Children Rights, SPLM

Controlled Areas, Monim El Jak, Vice President (KENYA)

56. Nuba Mountains Peoples Foundation, Elrayah Kakki, Chief Executive Officer

57. SPLM-N, Kamal Kambal (UK)

58. World Peace and Reconciliation, Adeeb Yousif (USA)

59. Carl Wilkens Fellowship, Katie-Jay Scott, Program Facilitator (USA)

60. EASE Women Group, Amal Elsheikh (UK)

61. Sudan Solidarity Network, Sabir Abu Saadia (SOUTH AFRICA)

62. Mohammed Hamid, Journalist (UK)

63. Darfur Action Group of South Carolina, Richard Sribnick, Chairman (USA)

64. Investors Against Genocide, Eric Cohen, Chairperson (USA)

65. Act for Sudan, Martina Knee, Co-Founder (USA)

66. Massachusetts Coalition for Darfur, William Rosenfeld, Director (USA)

67. Sudan Liberation Movement Minni Minawi, Abuobieda Elkhalifa

68. Collectif Urgence Darfour, Dr Jacky Mamou, Chairman (FRANÎ)

69. Joining Our Voices, Slater Armstrong, Founder/Director (USA)

70. Umma Party, USA Chapter, Abdul Suliman (USA)

71. Beja Congress UK, Dr Abu Amnas (UK)

72. SOESA INC, Bakri Omer, Director (AUSTRALIA)

73. Darfur Call, Abdelhadi Abaker, Chairman (THE NETHERLANDS)

74. Nuba Relief, Rehabilitation & Development Organisation, Nagwa Musa Konda (SUDAN)

75. People4Sudan, Zeinab Blandia, Chief Executive (USA)

76. Nuba Christian Family Mission, George Tutu, Founder/Director/Chairman (USA)

77. Darfur Union, The Netherlands, Eisa Mustafa, Chairman (THE NETHERLANDS)

78. National Unionist Party UK & Europe, Amin Hamad, Head of the Party’s Committee (UK)

79. Beja Congress Corrective, Zeinab Kabbashi, Chairperson (UK)

80. Sudan Organisation for Development, Zeinab Malik, Chairperson (UK)

81. DAAM (Network for Coordinating Sudan Pro-Democracy Action Abroad), Ali Abdelatif,

Coordinator (UK)

82. Norwegian Church Aid, Dawood Narbi Kodi, Program Manager (NORWAY)

83. Rabah Alsadiq, Deputy Editor-in-Chief, Hurriyat E-Newspaper ( SUDAN)

84. Sports League of Sudanese Expatriates, Abdel Al-Monim Omer Osman

85. Society of Sudanese Journalists Abroad, Ismael Mohammed Ali, General Secretary

86. The League of Friends of Mahjoub Shareif, Mohammed Abdel-Jalil, Chairman

87. Sudan Association of Transitional Justice, Ali Zain Elabdein, (SUDAN)

88. Gaafer Ali, Community Activist, UK

89. Mohammed Bahari, Activist, UK

90. Abdalla Ahmed, Activist, UK

91. Sam Godolphin, Activist, UK

92. Ahmed Elzobier, Human Rights Activist, UK

93. Ahmed Gamar, Activist, UK

94. Hamza Yousif, Activist UK

95. Emmanuel Walla, South Sudan, Activist

96. Mohamed El Faki Hamilton, Darfuri and Human Rights Activist

97. Zahir Moh Musa Akasha, Civil Society and Human Rights Activist

98. Alhadi Altrayih, Activist, UK

99. Mohammed Abaker, Activist, UK

100. Ali Rahman, Activist, UK

101. Rasha Ibrahim, Activist, UK

102. Khalid Kodi, Activist, USA

103. Ahmed Ballah, Activist, UK

104. Samia Adnan, Activist, UK

105. Zeena Farouk, Activist, UK

106. Ahmed Farouk, Activist, Belgium

107. Farah Farouk, Activist, Vietnam

108. Abaker Abuebashar, Activist, UK

109. Mona Zanoon, Activist, UK

110. Zahir Akasha, Activist, UK

111. Aboud Arosh, Activist, UK

112. Abdulazim Ahmed, Activist, UK

113. Amal Habani, Journalist/Human Rights Activist, SUDAN

114. Rasha Ibrahim, Activist, UK

115. Hashim Othman Mustafa Ibrahim, Activist, UK

116. Reverend Heidi McGinness, Activist USA

117. Mustafa Siry Suliman, Journalist, UK

118. Mohamed Hamid, Journalist, UK

119. Nasredeen Abdulbari, Activist, USA

120. Siddique Al-Mouj, Journalist, SAUDI ARABIA

121. Samih Elshaikh, Blogger, BELGIUM

122. Elsadig Adam Ismael, Human Right Activist, SUDAN

123. Altahir Ishag Eldouma, Journalist/Writer, SUDAN


David Cameron, UK Prime Minister

President Barack Obama, President of the United States

Francois Hollande, President of France

Philip Hammond, UK Foreign Secretary

John Kerry, Secretary of State, USA

Laurent Fabius, Foreign Minister of France

Sir Mark Lyall Grant, UK Ambassador to the UN

Samantha Power, USA Ambassador to the UN

Francois Delattre, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

   When UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon held a press conference on December 17, there were no questions about UN scandals such as UN Peacekeeping under Herve Ladsous covering up mass rape in Darfur as he did in Minova in Eastern Congo (nor about UN Peacekeepers shooting protesters in Haiti).

  In fact, as Ban read his answers from prepared noted, it seemed to many that Ban had been given the questions in advance.

   Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric set aside the first question for the outgoing head of the UN Correspondents Association, who lobbed a softball question on a topic Ban has no power over or responsibility for. This is how it works. UNCA used Ban to give a faux "UN" award to a Turkish billionaire only the night before, and to hand up a Haiti award with no reference to cholera or shooting at protesters.

 But the omission of the cover up of rapes in Tabit in Darfur was particularly egregious, and telling. The UNAMID mission there under Herve Ladsous on November 9 issued a statement that "village community leaders reiterated to UNAMID that they coexist peacefully with local military authorities in the area" and that no evidence of rape was found.

 On December 4, Inner City Press asked Ladsous, Why did UNAMID not say on November 9 that it was surrounded by soldiers? Video here, and embedded below.

  As is his habit, Ladsous did not answer on December 4, even with his UN Peacekeeping under fire for cover ups. It is a pattern with Ladsous. He refused Press questions for months about rapes in Eastern Congo in Minova by DRC Army units his UN Peacekeeping supports: video compilation here; Vine here.

  On the morning of December 4 Ladsous claimed to the Security Council that UNAMID's findings were "inconclusive" due to army presence. But his UNAMID's press release whitewashed the situation in Tabit and did not mention the army presence. The covering-up continues, with no credibility, as Ladsous did on the Minova raped by DR Congo Army units his UN Peacekeeping supports.

 On November 25, a wide range of groups in Darfur petitioned the UN Security Council about UNAMID's malfeasance. Inner City Press that morning obtained the letter (h/t) and put it online in full here, and below.

 While UN Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric, when Inner City Press asked at noon, said he had not seen the letter, by 6 pm when Inner City Press asked November's Security Council president about the letter, he confirmed receipt.

  Quinlan said he had circulated the letter to the other 14 Council members -- as of 3 pm, one of them had not yet received it -- and that he expects the issues to be considered when the Security Council takes up UNAMID "next week, under Chad's presidency."

 (On November 26, the UK Mission to the UN"s Arran Skinner told Inner City Press, "I can confirm that we received the letter indirectly. In terms of contents, on alleged rape cases, the Security Council issued a press statement calling for a full investigation. The UK initiated the call for a press statement and so agree that this issue needs to be looked at." Another Security Council mission has yet to confirm receipt or comment, but it's expected.)

  On Ban Ki-moon's report into UNAMID under-reporting attacks on civilians and even peacekeepers, Inner City Press asked and Quinlan repeated it should be taken up soon, the question is finding the right, credible (or disinterested) briefer. Watch this site for that. Here is the letter:


Dear Gary Quinlan, Australia's Permanent Representative to the United Nations,President of the United Nations Security Council, November 2014

United Nations

New York, NY

c. Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General
Valerie Amos, Under-Secretary-General for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Hervé Ladsous, Under-Secretary-General of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations United Nations

Dear Ambassador Quinlan,

As Darfuris in the diaspora, we have watched with great sorrow and growing anger the plight of our people in this ravaged region of Sudan. Darfur at one time commanded considerable attention in the United Nations, but no longer.

The international community in general has drifted into an acceptance that somehow the UN/African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) is an adequate means of protecting millions of vulnerable civilians. It is clearly not, and the recent mass sexual assault on women and girls in Tabit, North Darfur, makes this all too clear.

But the disgraceful "investigation" by UNAMID of events in Tabit should be the occasion for our remembering that this is, in fact, a UN-authorized mission; it has UN Chapter 7 authority; it is deployed with a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) negotiated by the UN and African Union (February 2008), even as the agreement is now simply a travesty, violated at will by the Khartoum regime. It is not, however, simply the failing of UNAMID and the African Union that must be reckoned with. It is the Security Council, the Secretariat, and UN Department of Peacekeeping Affairs (UN DPKO) that must accept responsibility for a failing mission; and it is UN DPKO that must do most to explain what it will do in light of this failure.

It is in this context that we demand that the following questions be addressed forthrightly and expeditiously:

[1] UNAMID, even if augmented and re-directed along the lines recently suggested by Secretary Ban Ki-moon, cannot provide adequate security for the people of Darfur. We demand that plans be made immediately for an UN force that can adequately take on the "responsibility to protect" civilians at risk, per the September 2005 UN World Summit Outcome Document (§38, §39).

[2] We demand that the Security Council and UN DPKO confront the Khartoum regime over its countless flagrant violations of the SOFA.

[3] We demand that UN DPKO undertake a full review of UNAMID's performance to date. The context here should be the fact that more than 2 million Darfuris have been newly displaced since UNAMID took up its mandate in January 2008; we would remind you of how closely violence and displacement have correlated over the past decade of conflict. Moreover, insecurity has increased steadily for more than two years—this on top of the insecurity that prevailed so widely in earlie years.

[4] We demand that UN DPKO, in consultation with the Security Council and the Secretariat, formulate plans to provide adequate protection to the civilian population of Darfur. This must include contingency plans for a very rapid acceleration of what is already unacceptable insecurity for civilians and humanitarians.

[5] We demand in particular that UN DPKO ensure that UNAMID is prepared to provide adequate protection to the people of Tabit, especially girls and women, from retaliation by Khartoum for having had the misfortune of making clear to the world just how brutal this regime is.

[6] We further demand that UN DPKO instruct UNAMID to provide all necessary protection to humanitarian efforts to reach Tabit. Many residents have been badly traumatized and injured.

[7] We also demand accountability from those who are responsible for the failures that led to the brutal crimes at Tabit, and so many others over so many years. Accountability must extend to the leadership of UNAMID and the African Union Peace and Security Council, as well as to the UN DPKO. As part of this assigning of responsibility, there must be a full and competent investigation, authorized by the Security Council of how this atrocity crime was essentially white-washed by all parties, most notably UNAMID. But we must emphasize as well that we are deeply troubled by the silence of UN DPKO.

[8] We demand that UNAMID be guided by the "rules of engagement" for UNAMID in Darfur that have been previously negotiated. UN DPKO must ensure that these "rules of engagement" are widely understood and dictate the actions taken by UNAMID personnel.

[9] We demand that UN DPKO assess the possibility that insecurity is now so great that there will be an exodus of international NGOs providing critical relief aid to Darfuris. Many INGOs have expressed their deep concern for the safety of their workers in Darfur, more than 95 percent of whom are Sudanese nationals. The safety of these workers must not be discounted because they are African and Khartoum permits no news coverage of Darfur and no human rights reporting presence.

Would relief workers similarly threatened in other parts of the world be regarded in the same light as Sudanese relief workers?

[10] We demand that UN DPKO communicate with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in order to ascertain when a continued humanitarian presence by the UN might become impossible for security reasons.

[11] We demand that UN DPKO assess the implications for future UN peacekeeping missions if

UNAMID is allowed to continue to fail so conspicuously. The events at Tabit and the performance of UNAMID investigators bring this question into high relief.

[12] Most generally, we demand that UN DPKO speak forthrightly about its understanding of the limitations and weaknesses of present peacekeeping in Darfur and the provision of civilian security.

We remain troubled by the comments of the Under-Secretary General for DPKO when in spring 2012 he declared that security "conditions on the ground" had improved sufficiently that UNAMID could begin to draw down its forces (a figure of 4,000 personnel was promulgated at the time). This ghastly error in judgment was never acknowledged, even as by July of 2012 we saw a tremendous upsurge in violence, especially in North Darfur. How can we trust statements from UN DPKO when egregious errors are not acknowledged?

[13] We demand that the United Nations collectively develop an effective response to the gross deficiencies of UNAMID in protecting civilians and humanitarians. UN DPKO in particular must develop benchmarks for assessing UNAMID's performance and formulate emergency contingency plans in the event of a massive and precipitous withdrawal of humanitarian personnel.

These are matters of the deepest concern to us; to date, there are far too few answers from UN about why the Darfur genocide continues more than a decade after it began. We demand clear evidence that the people of Darfur will not be further abandoned.


Darfur People's Association of New York

Darfur People's Association of Maryland

Fur Cultural Revival

Darfur People's Association of Houston

Darfur People's Association of Dallas

Darfur People's Association of Illinois

Darfur Human Rights - USA

Massalit Sons' Association - USA

Darfur Rehabilitation Project

Sudanese Revolutionary Front

Sudanese Opposition Forces- USA

Broad National Front

Justice & Equality Movement - Sudan

Sudan Liberation Movement - MM

Sudan Liberation Movement - Wahid


Umma Party


Sudanese Marginalized Forum - USA

Sudanese National Democratic Forum - California

National Sudanese Alliance - Philadelphia

Peace & Democracy Center - New Jersey

Democratic Alliance, USA

Federal Democratic Alliance

Sudanese Front for Change

Kush Liberation Movement

Democratic Unionist Party

Activists without Borders

Sudanese Congress Party

Darfur People's Association of Boston

Darfur People's Association of Indiana

Darfur People's Association of Utah

Darfur People's Association of Nebraska

Darfur People's Association of Seattle

Darfur Son's Union of Greater Washington DC

Darfur People's Association of Iowa

Darfur People's Association of Arizona

Darfur Women Action Group

Darfur Association of the United States

Darfur Self-reliance Organization - San Francisco, California

 Inner City Press on November 21 asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric to explain UNAMID's November 9 press release in the context of the internal memorandum, put online here, that UNAMID knew Sudanese security was filming the interviews, had even put together a "committee" of Thabit residents to speak to UNAMID. Video here.

  Dujarric said he wouldn't start now to comment on leaks. There are other leaks implicating UN Peacekeeping's Herve Ladsous. Is not commenting, like Ladsous has refused to answer Press questions, the right approach for the UN?

 Inner City Press on November 19 asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric what the UN would do in the wake of its (cover up) November 9 press release, and about bombing in North Darfur three days earlier.

 On November 20, UN Associate Spokesperson Vannina Maestracci was in charge of the UN noon briefing, and read out a statement that UNAMID is trying to verify the reports of bombing on November 16.  One has to wonder, are they mishandling this like the rape reports in Thabit?

  So Inner City Press asked, what is actually being done to get into Thabit, after the cover-up press release? Inner City Press asked about UNAMID's acting head Abiodun Bashua's reference to "rumors" of rape in Thabit - is that the UN's position? And why hasn't UNAMID accessed the site(s) of the November 16 bombings, four full days later?

 On November 21, Dujarric returned with an answer, that UNAMID had in this case done out and had found "craters." But apparently UNAMID drew no conclusions from that.

  Inner City Press at the November 17 UN noon briefing asked Ban's deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq about Sudanese forces having filmed UNAMID's interviews and to confirm the new blockage.

 Haq did not comment on UNAMID letting its interviews about rape be filmed by Sudanese authorities; he confirmed the blockage and said to expect a comment from Ban.

  And two hours later it came:

"The Secretary-General is deeply troubled about persistent allegations of mass rape in Thabit, North Darfur. The African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) visited Thabit on 9 November. However, the heavy presence of military and police in Thabit made a conclusive investigation difficult.  UNAMID has since then attempted to gain further access to shed light on what happened.

"The Secretary-General is concerned that after intense consultations with the Government in Khartoum and with local authorities in Darfur, UNAMID was yesterday denied access to Thabit. Only a full investigation by UNAMID will help shed light over these serious allegations. The Secretary-General therefore urges the Government of Sudan to grant UNAMID unfettered access, without further delay, to Thabit and its population so that these reports can be verified."

   Ban does not mention that his and Herve Ladsous' mission had this to say, on November 9: "Village community leaders reiterated to UNAMID that they coexist peacefully with local military authorities in the area. None of those interviewed confirmed that any incident of rape took place in Thabit on the day of that media report. The team neither found any evidence nor received any information regarding the media allegations during the period in question.”

  Who is going to take action, on whom, about that? Inner City Press and the new Free UN Coalition for Access are asking.

  On November 13, Inner City Press again asked UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq what had been done in the last 48 hours. Video here.

 Haq was unable to describe any investigation done without Sudanese military presence; instead, he said that the Force Commander of UNAMID, already charged with cover-ups, spoke with Herve Ladsous, who refused to answer Press questions about 130 rapes by the DR Army in Minova. Video here.

  How to have confidence in this investigation?

 On November 11, Inner City Press again asked UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq about it:

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask again about the allegations of rape in North Darfur.  Radio Dabanga there has not only questioned, you know, the UNAMID [African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur] press statement but has interviewed both victims and has quoted a local community leader in Tabit, basically threatening people that if they spoke on the rapes to UNAMID, they would face the consequences.  So I wanted to know, now at this remove… yesterday the President of the Council spoke about it, at this remove, what is UNAMID going to do to get to the bottom of it?  And also, the reporting to Ms. Aicha Elbasry’s allegations, who would brief the Security Council on that?  He said yesterday, the President of the Council, that they are looking to take it up and are looking for the right briefers.  Does the Secretariat have in mind either the author of the report or who would be the appropriate briefer?  Thanks.

Deputy Spokesman:  As the Council President informed you, they'll be looking at briefers, so we'll work that out with them.  Regarding your initial question, yes, we've been in touch with the UN-African Union Mission, UNAMID, who have informed us that security personnel were in fact present during UNAMID's mission to Tabit.  The African Union-UN Mission in Darfur will continue to look into the rape allegations in the area of Tabit, North Darfur.  As reported to the Security Council yesterday, the findings of the UNAMID team, which was granted access to Tabit on 9 November, are inconclusive and need further investigation.  UNAMID remains committed to this and it will revert with any additional findings that might shed light on these allegations.

Inner City Press:  [Inaudible] I just wanted to ask you again if there's been any reflection again on that line where it says residents… and I'm going to paraphrase it, residents said that they get along fine with the military.  Just seemed the line was such a clunker, basically, it was totally inconsistent with other reports…

Deputy Spokesman:  I'm not going to second-guess how my colleagues write press releases.  Different press releases are written by different people at different times.

Inner City Press:  Who wrote this one?

Deputy Spokesman:  Someone from the Mission.  The point is: you're writing, trying to get all the information out as best you can in the circumstances you have.  What I have been able to say right now is that we are aware that security personnel was present during UNAMID's mission there.

  We'll have more on this. Later on November 11 Inner City Press asked International Criminal Court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda if she had seen the whole UN report on allegations of cover-ups by UNAMID, or only a summary. She said only the summary, and only the day before. We'll have more on this too.

  On November 10,  Inner City Press asked UN Security Council president for November Gary Quinlan of Australia about the UNAMID press release, and if and when the Security Council will act on the "cover-up" report, including requesting the full report from the Secretariat, which to date has provided only a summary. Video here. From the Australian transcript:

Inner City Press: Sure, thanks a lot. I wanted to ask on Darfur. Thanks for what you said about what Ms Bangura said. There’s a press release put out by UNAMID that has this line in it: “Village community leaders reiterated to UNAMID that they co-exist peacefully with local military authorities in the area.” The press release doesn’t mention at all the military presence. So I wanted to ask you, one, if you could comment, what do you make of this press release by UNAMID? And two, does the report by the Secretary-General on allegations of covers up by UNAMID of attacks on civilians and on peacekeepers, where does it stand? He said that the, the Spokesperson said that an executive summary of the report went to the Council. Is the Council going to have a meeting on it? Are you going to have a full report?  And are you satisfied with UNAMID’s press release on these allegations of rape?

AMBASSADOR QUINLAN: Matthew, on the second part of the question. Members of the Council are very concerned on this whole question of UNAMID and UNAMID reporting, but also what UNAMID is doing. And one of the big issues there is the denial of access and restrictions that are imposed largely by the Government of Sudan, with whom UNAMID has a formal arrangement on access. But also, of course, by armed opposition groups and that is inherently more difficult sometimes to get the access that’s needed.

That report has not yet been discussed by the Council. I expect that it will be over the next couple of weeks. A number of members of the Council are extremely interested in it. We want to be sure that we’ve lined up the briefers from the Secretariat to have a proper discussion of that report.

Secondly, in relation to the UNAMID press release, I think the key is that they’ve indicated that they had access but it was the first time since November 4, when they’d been seeking access. And they had proactively been seeking access to be able to undertake investigations. That’s a long period to have access denied, by the way, in a circumstance like rape. You really do need, as Ms Bangura reminded us, to have access straight away, for obvious reasons. So that’s one point I’d make. The second point is UNAMID has made it extremely clear in its press release that it will conduct further follow-up actions, including possible further investigations and patrols and that they will do that in cooperation with the Government of Sudan and other parties. We have confidence that that will happen. SRSG Bangura is making this a top priority for her and so is the Secretariat itself and we were reassured about that this morning by ASG Mulet. So I think that’s basically it.

  We'll continue to follow this -- but how can a peacekeeping mission already accused of covering up for the Sudanese government say, today, that "village community leaders reiterated to UNAMID that they coexist peacefully with local military authorities in the area"? To some, this is shocking - and indicative of problems in today's UN Peacekeeping.

Inner City Press on November 7 asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric about the challenges to the UN's statement it couldn't and didn't access the site of mass rapes in Tabit in Darfur. Video here; transcript:

Inner City Press: there are witnesses in Darfur who actually say that the UNAMID investigators, rather than being stopped outside Tabit went inside and interviewed four people and after that they were spoken to by Sudanese military intelligence.  And so these are credible people that have been reporting on Darfur for some time and see the reports being issued by UNAMID although as a reaction to the quote “cover up report” as not being accurate.  And I wanted to know, can you check with them to be sure that the UNAMID investigators didn't in fact enter Tabit Tuesday at 5 am and whether they were spoken to by Sudanese intelligence and decided to say that they hadn't been able to enter the town?

Spokesman Dujarric:  I'm not going to judge the credibility or lack of credibility of people who have been reporting on Darfur.  I mean, they report.  What I can tell you is the Mission clearly stands by its reporting.  They've sent us a bit more detail, said the verification patrol comprising of military police and civilian personnel on Tuesday, 4 November, that it was sent on Tuesday, 4 November, from Shangil Tobaya to Tabit to 14:50 hours,  I assume local time.  The patrol was denied access at the outskirts of the town at a Sudanese military checkpoint.  Attempts to negotiate access to Tabit were unfruitful and the team returned to the base in Shangil Tobaya.  We've repeated… the Mission's leadership has repeated its call to the Government to grant the UN, to grant UNAMID unfettered access to the whole of Darfur and obviously especially in areas where we're trying to investigate horrendous reports of mass rape.  So that's a longer, a long way of saying that the Mission stands by its reporting.

   But if UNAMID and UN Peacekeeping was just outed for under-reporting attacks, how it is now automatically credible? On November 6, Inner City Press asked Dujarric about similar cover-ups in Central African Republic, exposed by an Amnesty International report about that country.

From the UN's transcript:

Inner City Press: I'm sure the Secretary-General has seen the Amnesty International's report today about the peacekeeping mission in Central African Republic.  They basically, I mean, they say a number of things.  Maybe you have some kind of response to it.  But, I wanted to especially ask you about the reporting aspect of it they describe a number of killings and attacks that have taken place in Dekoa, Bambari and elsewhere in [the Central African Republic] about, which, at least being here every day, I've heard nothing from this podium.  So, I wanted to know both substantively what's the response of UN peacekeeping to not protecting civilians and in terms of communications and transparency the response to what appears to be an underreporting similar to that analogous to that in Darfur?

Spokesman Dujarric:  Sure.  Obviously, a big part of the Missions' mandate is the protection of civilians.  The Mission, its peacekeeping forces, its formed police units, are doing that to the best of their ability.  Obviously, it's a very challenging situation.  It's a challenging terrain in which they work.  And there is, obviously… one could always use more troops and more police.  I'm not sure they're up to their mandated force as of yet.  As far as reporting goes, you know we report from here whatever we receive from the Mission.

Inner City Press: Because of the Darfur thing, I wanted to ask:  Their report is very detailed.  The report, it says names of places, number of people killed.  Maybe, first of all, does the Mission send it to [the Department of Peacekeeping Operations] in New York and they're supposed to give it to your office?  At what point has this information in the Amnesty report, has it reached New York before or is it a surprise to UN?

Spokesman:  I can only speak to what I receive from the Mission

Back on October 29, Inner City Press asked if the full Darfur report will be released, at least to the Security Council, and about under-reporting of attacks in the Central African Republic. Video here.

  Dujarric said that even before the summary was given to the Security Council members -- so that is apparently all that has been given to them -- UN missions were told to be sure to report attacks. He said he reads out what the missions sent him.

  So has the UN mission in CAR, MINUSCA, simply not send in reports about killings in Bambari and elsewhere? We'll see.

Despite a request from Inner City Press and the Free UN Coalition for Access the UN will not release the report. Back on October 29, Inner City Press asked, given that even the sanitized statement says information on attacks was withheld from the media and UN Headquarters - at its request? - who is responsible? Video here.

  Back on September 12, eight days after Inner City Press exclusively reported that the head of the Darfur peacekeeping mission Mohamed ibn Chambas was being given the UN Office in West Africa post in Dakar, and asked about it, the UN confirmed the move.

  Inner City Press has asked on September 5, and did again on September 12, if this move didn't undercut or pre-judge the UN's investigation into charges that the Darfur mission under Chambas under-reported attacks on civilians.

  On September 12, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric insisted he didn't want to "pre-judge" the inquiry.  But by giving the new post, this has already been done. Now this sanitized statement, with the report still withheld:

A review, initiated by the Secretary-General, was conducted into recent allegations that the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) intentionally sought to cover up crimes against civilians and peacekeepers.

The Review Team examined all the material related to 16 incidents, which were the basis of these allegations. It also interviewed former and current staff in UNAMID and at UN Headquarters. The Review Team did not find any evidence to support these allegations. However, it did find a tendency to under-report unless absolutely certain of the facts. In five of the cases examined, the Mission did not provide UN Headquarters with full reports on the circumstances surrounding these incidents, which involved possible wrongdoing by Government or pro-Government forces. The Review Team also found that the Mission took an unduly conservative approach to the media, maintaining silence when it could have developed a press line, even in the absence of all the facts.

The Secretary-General is deeply troubled by these findings. He recognizes that UNAMID faces unique challenges owing to its complex mandate and operating environment. Nevertheless, keeping silent or under-reporting on incidents involving human rights violations and threats or attacks on UN peacekeepers cannot be condoned under any circumstances.

The Secretary-General will take all necessary steps to ensure full and accurate reporting by UNAMID. Every effort will be made to ensure that sensitive information is systematically brought to the attention of UN Headquarters and the Security Council in a timely fashion. UNAMID’s media policy will be re-examined to ensure greater openness and transparency. The Mission will be expected to follow up formally and report on Government investigations into incidents where peacekeepers have been killed or injured.

Ensuring that the UN speaks out consistently against abuses and identifies the perpetrators is a key goal of the Secretary-General’s Human Rights up Front initiative. The Secretary-General will ensure that all missions are provided with clear guidance on the fulfilment of their reporting obligations, particularly with regard to human rights and the protection of civilians. He looks forward to the upcoming review of UN peace operations as an opportunity to comprehensively address this issue, which is a core element of his Human Rights up Front initiative.

   On August 22, Inner City Press asked:

Inner City Press: in Darfur, it seems that Mr. Mohamed ibn Chambas went to Kalma Camp and met with residents who expressed a variety of complaints, but he was quoted as saying there that UNAMID [African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur] cannot stop Government forces from entering camps for the displaced, and it has left many people confused whether, what is UNAMID’s role in terms of protection of civilians given these [inaudible] entrances in the camp and people lying on the ground?

Spokesman Dujarric:  I will… we will check with the Mission to verify the quotes and see what actually they have been doing.

   Now this. 

We'll be following it to the end. Watch this site.


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