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ICRC and Consent in Iraq and Ukraine, Biden's Poroshenko Call

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 9 -- On Ukraine four days after the UN Security Council heard the UN's John Ging rattle off UN estimate of those fleeing into Russia (168, 677 this year), US Vice President Joe Biden spoke with Ukraine's Petro Poroshenko.

  According to the White House's read-out, "Poroshenko informed the Vice President of his communication with the International Committee of the Red Cross regarding ICRC’s ongoing efforts to distribute multilateral humanitarian aid -- including assistance from the United States – to the vulnerable populations in eastern Ukraine."

  Some wonder, what about for example Sinjar in Iraq, and the ICRC? Has the ICRC actually gotten aid into Donetsky and Lugansk or are its efforts being read-out for another purpose?

 Earlier on August 9, US Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with Russia's Sergey Lavrov.

 According to a Senior State Department official, "During a call with Foreign Minister Lavrov Saturday evening (Burma time), Secretary Kerry made clear that the best way to get additional humanitarian assistance to eastern Ukraine is for all parties to work through international organizations, many of which are already on the ground, and that assistance should only be delivered with the consent of the Ukrainian government. Secretary Kerry conveyed that Russia should not intervene in Ukraine under the guise of humanitarian convoys or any other pretext of 'peacekeeping.'"

  This jibed with a statement (the US and others apparently made) Ban Ki-moon put out on August 9, that "the situation is being handled appropriately by the Government of Ukraine."

  Some ask, how could the same Government of Ukraine which is bombing Lugansk and Donetsk be appropriately handling the humanitarian situation there? But this is Ban Ki-moon, similar to his uncorrected August 1 statement that the Israeli Defense Forces soldier was captive of Hamas, when even the IDF quickly said he was killed in action. Inner City Press asked; no correction by Ban Ki-moon or the UN.

  According to the Senior US State Department Official, Kerry and Lavrov also discussed Iraq and the humanitarian entry the US had made there:

"They also discussed Iraq and ISIL’s campaign of terror against innocent people as well as President Obama’s decision to authorize targeted military action and provide significant humanitarian assistance. They agreed on the need to support the Iraqi Security Forces and the Kurdish forces in the fight against ISIL and to stay in touch over the coming days as the situation on the ground continues to develop."

  Certainly, being invited by a government makes some difference. But many, including in the Permanent Three in the Security Council, have argued the Responsibility to Protect can override the consent of a government (for example after Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar, where Kerry was during this call with Lavrov). That's where Ban Ki-moon's statement comes in. But given other failure to answer, on matters from Afghanistan to free travel on private jets, how much water does it hold?

  Inner City Press has a simple question pending with Ban's "weekend duty" spokesperson, about Libya: watch this site.

   Back on July 30 when Ukraine's Permanent Representative to the UN Yuriy Sergeyev held a UN press conference, Inner City Press asked him about the Human Right Watch report his government is using Grad rockets, killing at least 16 civilians between July 12 and 21 near Donetsk.

  Sergeyev responded first about the UN's (or Ivan Simonovic's) report, then emphasized that Russian media is saying Ukraine is using ballistic missiles.

  Inner City Press repeated the question, emphasizing it concerns Human Rights Watch's report, not the UN's, and not Russian media.  Sergeyev provided essentially the same answer.

  Here is the HRW report, online.

  Inner City Press also asked about the status of the International Monetary Fund program, after the downing of MH17. Sergeyev said Ukraine has met with the IMF's Christine Lagarde and "will" get the next tranche of the program in late August.  But won't there be an Executive Board meeting?

After Russian foreign minister and US Secretary of State John Kerry spoke by phone on July 27, the US State Department issued two read-outs, or a readout in two stages.

  The second, an "additional point" by a Senior State Department Official, was that Kerry "underlined our support for a mutual cease fire verified by the OSCE and reaffirmed our strong support for the international investigation to show the facts of MH17."

  Inner City Press on July 30 asked Sergeyev for Ukraine's position on this. Sergeyev cited as "pre-conditions" the closing of the border with Russia, and the release of all hostages.

  Back on July 28 Inner City Press asked Russia's Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin about this read-out: does the US support a ceasefire?

I supposed he said they did,” Churkin replied. “What their message is in private to the Ukrainians is a different story... There was a phone converation between Vice President Biden and President Poroshenko [then] they went up another stage in escalating the conflict after that and immediately.”

  Procedurally, Ukraine set aside the first question at its press conference saying, "Pamela, traditionally you open our session." Using this UN Correspondents Association set-aside, Pam Falk of CBS asked about rebels mining the MH17 site. Her UNCA sidekick asked about "Russian propaganda."

   And so it went until, fifth, the new Free UN Coalition for Access asked about HRW's report. This is how it's working, with the UN's Censorship Alliance. In this context, the Free UN Coalition for Access is against the automatic setting-aside of questions.

Watch this site.


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