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As UN Confirms Sudan Arrest of Staff, Council Stalled on Wau Airport for Abyei

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 10 -- The day after Security Council president Gerard Araud told the Press the Council's Sudan trip later this month will definitely go to Abyei, only “which airport” is being discussed, Sudan continued to maintain that it has not yet given approval, even that the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations has not yet issued its final recommendation.

  Inner City Press asked top UN Peacekeeper Alain Le Roy about this, and if Khalil Ibrahim of Darfur's Justice & Equality Movement is still trapped in Tripoli.

  Yes, Le Roy said, Ibrahim is still there. He could not or would not explain the UN's response to requests that they extricate Ibrahim from Libya, as the UN did with its own international staff.

On Abyei, it is explained to Inner City Press that a choice would have to be made between airports in Kadugli and Wau. (The latter was supposed to be a stop on the Council's October 2010 trip to Juba, Darfur and Khartoum, but plane trouble canceled it -- click here for Inner City Press' coverage.)

Wau cannot accommodate the large plane on which the Council will fly from Addis Ababa to Khartoum. Kadugli can, but the helicopters needed for further transport to Abyei are easier staged out of Wau and not Kadugli.

The Sudanese, meanwhile, say the Council was first considering flying to the UN's El Obeid base. They confirm that DPKO cannot give its final recommendation until these “logistical” issues are solved.

UN air craft in Wau, UNSC and IDP answers not shown

On May 9, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's acting deputy spokesman Farhan Haq:

Inner City Press: a person active in the [internally displaced persons] camps, Hawa Abdullah, has been arrested by the Government and charged with Christianization and being a member of the Abdul Wahid Nur group. There is some uproar there, and I wonder if UNAMID has any awareness of this case or comment on it.

Acting Deputy Spokesperson Haq: We’ll check with UNAMID whether they have any reaction. They haven't disclosed any reaction so far. But we’ll see whether they say anything down the line.

The following morning at 11 am, Haq's office sent the following:

From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply [at]
Date: Tue, May 10, 2011 at 11:14 AM
Subject: Your question on UNAMID staff member
To: Matthew.Lee [at]

Regarding your question from yesterday, UNAMID has said the following:

UNAMID confirms that on 6 May a female national staff member was detained by National Security personnel at her residence in Abu Shouk Internally Displaced Persons camp. The Mission is in contact with local and state authorities to determine the cause behind her detention.

Meanwhile, questions from a full week ago have still not been answered. On May 3, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky:

there have been two separate reports of children dying in IDP [internally displaced persons] camps in Darfur due to, they say, lack of medical care, the residents of the camps...And I am just wondering how to square with this, I saw a recent UN News Centre, UN press release, about increased humanitarian access. Is UNAMID [African Union-UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur] aware of people dying in camps due to lack of medical care and if so, what is being done to gain access to those camps?

Spokesperson Nesirky: I’ll ask my colleagues in DPKO [Department of Peacekeeping Operations] to provide an update.

But there's been no answer from DPKO or Nesirky's Office. Now the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has been asked. Watch this site.

* * *

In Sudan, UN Council Will Bypass Darfur, Of Juba Hotels & Abyei Agreements

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 9 -- When UN Security Council members travel to Sudan later this month, they will not go to Darfur.

Council president for May Gerard Araud of France told Inner City Press on Monday that the members definitely will go to Abyei, they are just figuring out which airport to use.

From the French Mission to the UN's transcript:

Inner City Press: On the trip, has Sudan agreed that the Security Council goes to Abyei ?

Araud: Sudan has agreed to the visit to Abyei. There is no problem. We are discussing the technical organisation i.e to which airport we are going.

But Sudan's diplomat outside the Council on Monday told Inner City Press that Khartoum hasn't yet approved any trip to Abyei. “We have to see the Terms of Reference,” he said.

Another Council member agreed that Sudan had not yet consented. “The President of the Council will have to speak with Sudan about it,” the diplomat said. But Araud said it is already set.

The concern about Abyei includes security. Two Council members told Inner City Press that the Department of Peacekeeping Operations says that they can safety get the members to Abyei “for now.” They discussed two “rapid reaction” teams of Indian peacekeepers.

There was also discussion, sources say, of hotel accommodations in Juba. On the Council's last trip there on October, which Inner City Press reported on, the delegation was split up into two hotels. (Click here for Inner City Press' review of the Beijing Juba hotel, essentially trailers with the Chinese consulate behind it).

This time, there have been complaints about double standards or disparate treatment. All Council members must be treated the same, it'd been agreed. Watch this site.

* * *

UN Admits 2d Flight of ICC Darfur Indictee Haroun to Abyei in Sudan, Impunity

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 4, updated -- The UN has for a second time offered a free UN flight in Sudan to Ahmed Haroun, under indictment by the International Criminal Court for war crimes in Darfur, the UN admitted Friday in response to questions from Inner City Press.

  On March 3 the UN Security Council met about renewed fighting in the disputed Abyei region. Back in January, Inner City Press got the UN to acknowledge they had flown ICC indictee Haroun from South Kordofan, where he serves fellow ICC indictee Omar al Bashir as governor, to Abyei.

  The UN has defended this controversial flight by saying that Haroun and Haroun alone could stop violence in Abyei. The UN never explained why the government of Sudan, which has an air force currently bombing civilians in Jebel Marra in Darfur, couldn't itself fly Haroun.

The UN said it was a scheduled flight, then UN Mission in Sudan chief Haile Menkerios admitted to Inner City Press that it was a special flight. Inner City Press is told such flights cost $40,000, and the UN has confirm no reimbursement has been sought from the Bashir government.

But now the violence has continued, making the UN flight of ICC indictee Haroun harder to justify even by the UN's own argument.

  March 3 in front of the Security Council, Inner City Press asked Council president for March Li Baodong of China if the UN Peacekeeping official who briefed the Council, Atul Khare, had mentioned if Haroun would again be flown in a UN helicopter. Li Baodong did not directly answer.

At the March 4 UN noon briefing, Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky to confirm or deny that that the UN would once again fly ICC indictee Haroun to Abyei, even now that his work in connection with the first flight has proved ineffective.

Nesirky said he would check. Ten minutes later, Nesirky's deputy Farhan Haq announced by speaker to all UN correspondents that yes, Haroun attended today's meeting in Abyei, and yes, “he was transported” by the UN.

  This UN promotes impunity, even for one of the few people indicted for war crimes by the ICC. Meanwhile Ban Ki-moon brags about the Security Council's partial referral of the situation in Libya to the ICC -- a referral that Ban Ki-moon did not even call for until after the Council voted to make the referral.

  This UN is promoting and enshrining lawlessness, with no transparency or accountability. Watch this site.

Update of 3:48 pm -- Human Rights Watch, via Richard Dicker, submitted this comment:

This is the second time in recent weeks the UN has transported Ahmed Haroun who is charged by the ICC with war crimes in Darfur. We have real concerns because the U.N. should not be in the business of transporting Haroun. There needs to be an extremely high threshold of urgency for such action by UNMIS.”

Responses have been sought from the Missions to the UN of France, the UK and the US, with the latter two asked if they knew in advance of the UN's new flight of ICC indictee Haroun. Given her statements this year about social media, & after hours of non-response by the US Mission to the UN,@AmbassadorRice has been asked directly as well. Watch this site.

Update of 4:30 pm -- Then this, from UK Mission to the UN spokesman Daniel Shepherd:

As spokesperson, I would only reiterate the message that my two Ambassadors have both said on the record (and published by Inner City Press) first time around: that we aren’t going to second guess how UNMIS fulfills its mandate to provide good offices to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) parties in efforts to resolve differences through dialogue and negotiations. I’d only add that this work is particularly important at this sensitive time, to contain any potential escalation after the recent Abyei violence.”

We could note again that violence has persisted despite the UN flying ICC indictee Ahmed Haroun in the first time, and that it is the role of UN member states to oversee the UN Secretariat, not to defer in this case to what some see as its promotion of impunity - but at least the UK would put its position on the record.

Update of 4:43 pm -- this too has come in, perhaps in response:

Date: Fri, Mar 4, 201
Subject: Haroun and Abyei
To: Matthew.Lee [at]

You guys ask great questions! Have you noticed perhaps that the United Nations seems to be unaware of who is causing the violence in Abyei. And yet "diplomatic sources" report seeing the burial of 33 bodies - all southerners.

The Arab nomads say the violence started when SPLM police shot at them (Hitler used a similar ploy to invade Poland) - and today thousands of civilians fled Abyei fearing another crisis like in June 2008. The Dinka Ngok villages north of Abyei, such as Maker, have been burnt to the ground. The end explains the means. There is a creeping ethnic cleansing going on in the Abyei region despite the agreements of 2005 and the Court of Arbitration ruling in 2010.

Why fly Haroun to Abyei - what is his cv? It is, as you correctly point out, that of arming arab militias to burn villages. I hope to see more of your questions pinning the UN to the responsibility to protect.

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

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.

* * *

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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