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In Darfur, UN Says Travel Restrictions Break Agreement, But No Attribution of Pilot Hostake Taking or Kalma Camp Violence

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 2 -- In Darfur, the embattled UN - African Union mission UNAMID has been instructed to only travel, including on the roads of Nyala, after giving prior notice to the government, which has also said it will search UNAMID personnel's bags in airports.

Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Martin Nesirky about these new Sudanese government rules. “If implemented, then these restrictions on movement would not be consistent with the Status of Forces Agreement,” Nesirky replied in what seemed a prepared statement. Video here, from Minute 33:38.

Does that mean that UNAMID is resisting the restrictions, in a way it did not resist the orders to only use its helicopters on 48 hours notice, even to defend its peacekeepers? “We're working with the local authorities in South Sudan,” Nesirky said.

Inner City Press last week repeatedly asked if and when the UN would disclose what it knows about who took hostage the Russian pilot, and beat his passengers. On July 30, Inner City Press was told that the pilot, already then released, would rest before being interviewed as to who had taken him.

But when on August 2 Inner City Press asked the UN, which has presumably now interviewed the pilot, to say whether as reported it was pro-government militia, Janjaweed, who were responsible for the incident, Nesirky said the UN still does not know.

Asked if the UN and its Department of Peacekeeping Operations has begun work toward the Security Council required (and compromised) “full understanding of the facts” behind the deaths and violence in the Kalma camp last week, Nesirky said that DPKO chief Alain Le Roy will conduct a previously scheduled briefing for the Press on August 4.

In Nyala, UN copters still unused, now roads off limits, no pilot report

Nesirky then read a prepared that the situation in Kalma has “improved but remains tense,” and that deputy joint Special Representative Mohamed Younis visited Nyala and spoke with the Wali of South Darfur sheiks and UNAMID staff. Nesirky did not fully confirm until after the briefing that three UNAMID peacekeepers, from Sierra Leone, while accompanying Younis died in a car crash. RIP.

We will have more about the roads of Nyala. Watch this site.

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On Darfur Camp Violence, Nur's Role as Unclear as US Stance on Doha, Sudan Says Camp Is Under UN Control, Lobbies

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 30, updated -- Darfur camp violence was taken up by the UN Security Council on Friday afternoon. According to UN sources, members of the Liberation and Justice Movement group which is negotiating with Khartoum were targeted by members of the Abdel Wahid Nur faction, which is not.

While the United States called for the consultations, it is not clear if the US stands with the UN and its Darfur envoy Ibrahim Gambari in saying that the solution to Darfur is to be found in Doha across the table from Omar al Bashir's negotiators.

French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner loudly announced that Paris based Abdel Wahid Nur would be joining the Doha process. Nearly immediately, Abdel Wahid Nur qualified this with the conditions previously listed, including safety in Darfur.

Inner City Press asked Ibrahim Gambari on July 27 about Abdel Wahid Nur's participation. Gambari said no, and characterized the conditions, including safety, as something you get at the END of negotiations, not as a precondition. One can see this as either realism or a too cavalier attitude to the protection of civilians, especially for one in charge of a peacekeeping mission with such a mandate.

More Kalma from the past, Gambari not shown

Sudan's acting Ambassador, on his way at 4 pm into the Council's suite where he would not be allowed into consultations, said that Gambari had told him at 2:30 that he would be placing some calls to get information, and would himself be giving the briefing at 4. But at that time, he was spotted by an Inner City Press source strolling the streets outside the UN, dress in white national dress.

Gambari also said on June 27 that he has gone to Paris twice to meet Abdel Wahid Nur. Three days later, he is still in New York, but not in the consultations room. Briefing was Alain Le Roy of Peacekeeping, joined at 4:40 by Lynn Pascoe of Political Affairs.

The South Sudan referendum Eminent persons monitoring group the UN is moving to set up, which Inner City Press exclusively reported earlier today, would be staffed by Pascoe's Department of Political Affairs and not the UN peacekeeping mission run by Haile Menkerios. Whether Pascoe's arrival at the Council was about this, or the Doha process implications of the attacks in the Darfur IDP camps is not yet known. Watch this site.

Update of 5:09 -- Sudan's charge d'affaires was lobbying in the hall outside the Council. “We cannot live with a paragraph about inspecting the Kalma camp... the camp is under the control of UNAMID...” Then, after fumbling with their passes, they went into the Council's suite. Coming out were the outgoing Nigerian presidency's plants and bean bag chairs with Islamic script. Coming in -- Russia's set up, for August..

Update of 5:29 p.m. -- there will be a press statement. Unclear if it will include the paragraph about inspecting or investigating in Kalma camp, which Sudan is opposing.

Update of 5:55 p.m. -- while UN TV had been told the press statement would be ready and read by now, the Council has gone into recess. Inner City Press is told by Council source that France has proposed the UN send an investigation team to Kalma camp. China and Russia have opposed it, as does Sudan. Developing.

Update of 6:13 p.m. -- Here's what happened: France “aggressively” asked for an investigation, setting of “red lights” among some other delegations. But wait - the US asked the meeting, but France made the proposal. Why? Le Roy pointed the finger at the Abdel Wahid Nur group, but France says they've spoken to him and he denies it. THAT's why France wants the investigation. You heard it here first....

* * *

UN Council Meets Late on Darfur Violence, Eminences to Bless S.Sudan Referendum

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 30 -- On Darfur, the UN and its Security Council lurch from interest to disinterest. Friday morning, for the vote on mandate of the joint UN - African Union Mission in Darfur, no Permanent Representatives appeared, except Nigerian Permanent Representative Joy Ogwu for what she thought would be her last meeting as Council president.

  But sometimes events outstrip disinterest. With news spreading of increased violence in the Darfur camps, a request -- some say a response to pressure or coverage -- was made for another meeting in the afternoon, for a behind closed doors briefing by top UN peacekeeper Alain Le Roy.

  Inner City Press asked outgoing President Joy Ogwu if the meeting, at 4 p.m., will focus on the shootings in the Kalma camp, which have been attributed to members of the Abdel Wahid Nur faction, targeting members of the Liberation and Justice Movement -- formed by a paid UN staffer -- for negotiating in Doha with the government of Omar al Bashir. She responded by mentioning Sudan as a whole.

  On South Sudan, with Bashir threatening to put off the independence reference unless the border is demarcated in a way that favors Khartoum, on July 29 top UN peacekeeper Alain Le Roy told the Security Council of plans to “monitor” the referendum. Afterward he did not speak with the press, and won't until next week, unless this changes after the July 30 consultations on Darfur.

  But sources in the UN's North Lawn building say moves are afoot to create a panel of former and perhaps current African leaders to give their blessing to the referendum.

Previously in Kalma camp (2005), protection still not shown

  Inner City Press confirmed this with a Council member's political coordinator on Friday: it will be a group of “Eminent Persons,” with technical support from the UN.

  Le Roy reportedly told the Council that while the UN generally does not monitor elections, in this case it will support Eminent Persons to do so. Skeptics wonder if these Eminent Persons, like former South African president Thabo Mbeki already on the case, will be decidedly pro Bashir.

We will continue to cover this, including the upcoming meeting(s) on Darfur. 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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