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On Sudan Ousters, UK Speaks, Like UN Didn't on UNFPA, Nor UNHCR

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 26, more here – After Inner City Press received a leaked copy of Sudan UN Development Program Country Director Yvonne Helle's December 24 e-mail saying she had been ordered to leave the country, it reported it and asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric about it at the UN's noon briefing on December 24. Story here, video from UN noon briefing here.

  Now on December 27 UK Minister for Africa James Duddridge has said: "I condemn the deeply regrettable decision by the Government of Sudan to expel two senior United Nations staff... It is essential that the Government of Sudan co-operate with UN missions and agencies in their country; and I join with the Secretary General in calling on the Government of Sudan to reverse this decision."

  Inner City Press has asked, why was nothing said when Sudan expelled the Country Director of the UN Population Fund UNFPA in April? When Sudan this Fall chased a UN aid official out of Darfur? There have been no public explanation, but Inner City Press is compiling a picture -- call it "Profiles in Cowardice" -- from multiple sources; watch this site.

  For now we add this: when UNHCR the UN's refugee agency held a  staff planning mtg in Khartoum, Sudan's security agency NISS then refused to let the Darfur-based international staff return to their posts.

 For months they sat in Khartoum waiting, incidentally spending large amounts from UNHCR's public budget. Ultimately many of the international staff were simply moved, quietly, to other countries.

 And why didn't the UN system, the UN Security Council and its members speak at that time, and in April when UNFPA's Country Director was thrown out?

  In April 2014, Inner City Press asked UNFPA to "Please confirm or deny that in Sudan UNFPA Representative Pam Delargy was told to leave the country on April 7 and, separately, that she did leave. And anything else. Please also provide an update on Mr. Siddhart Chatterjee as UNFPA Representative in Kenya: date of commencement, what work has been done."

  UNFPA replied to Inner City Press on April 9, "The United Nations Resident Coordinator in Khartoum, Sudan was notified by the Government of Sudan that the UNFPA Representative had been requested to leave the country at a short notice. A press release by the Sudanese Government has been issued to this effect. We regret this decision and are in communication with the United Nations Country Team in Sudan to seek further clarification on this matter. We hope that we would very soon be able to continue and re-establish normal relationships with the Government of Sudan."

  Inner City Press asked this week about the UN system's silence and UNFPA replied, "UNFPA now has a new representative in Sudan, who has assumed her responsibilities three months ago. I will follow up with our Khartoum office regarding your second question."

  We'll have more on this.

   On December 24, tellingly Dujarric had no comment on Helle being thrown out of Sudan, just as the UN had been silent on the similar ouster of the UNPFA country director in Sudan in April, and a UN aid officer from Darfur in the Fall, as reported by Inner City Press.

 The UN Security Council did not speak on April on the UNFPA country director's ouster, much less on the departure of OCHA's Darfur official.

  But now the Security Council has scheduled consultations on these two most recent orders to leave, on December 30 -- the day AFTER the deadline for UNDP's Yvonne Helle to leave.

  So are they most focused on Jordanian Ali Al-Za'tari, even though HE said nothing about the UNFPA ouster in April, the OCHA departure, and so quickly accepted Helle's ouster? And the briefer for these consultations better not be Herve Ladsous, whose firing has been called for by 123 NGOs and Sudan experts for, among other things, being too accommodative of Bashir and rapes in Sudan. We'll see.

   There's a lack of transparency. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at his December 17 press conference rejected a Press question about the cover up of rapes in Darfur by UN Peacekeeping under Herve Ladsous, and declined the same question, also from Inner City Press, at his three-question stakeout on December 22. (Two of the picked questions were about North Korea.)

   Then on December 25, after Inner City Press first reported that UN Resident Coordinator Ali Al Za'tari, who had docilely accepted the ouster of Helle and of the UNFPA before that, was himself being thrown out, Dujarric at 1:32 pm finally sent Inner City Press an e-mail answering its question from noon on December 24, and written questions after that. The UN had “filed a protest” (Agence France Presse, a defender of Ladsous, said this quote was “said to AFP.” Note that Inner City Press has put in questions to UNFPA and OCHA. We'lll have more on these.)

   But this is how the way things work gets mystified: coverage belatedly began, Ban Ki-moon Stands Up to Sudan. Does he? Why not comment on the first ouster order by Sudan? Why exclude then dodge questions about the cover up of the Darfur rapes by UN Peacekeeping under Herve Ladsous?

  As noted late yesterday, the New York Times piece from 40,000 feet about Darfur misleads by casting UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous as one of the good guys, and omitting mention of 132 non-governmental organizations and Sudan experts having written to Ban to urge him to fire Ladsous for under-performance in Sudan, here.

   But worse than the NYT is Reuters, which after arriving late to and without given any credit for the story quotes Ladsous that the UN will remain in Darfur. Really? (Reuters UN bureau chief has said he has a policy of not crediting Inner City Press, then censored from Search his “for the record” anti-Press complaint to the UN, here via EFF's

   For the record, publications such as Sudan Tribune and Radio Tamazuj credit Inner City Press, here and here. But it is beyond appropriation – the timing is important. Al Jazeera, for example, “reports” that “A UN spokesperson, who spoke on condition of anoymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media,* said Ali Zaatari and Yvonne Helle were ordered to leave on Thursday.”

  That's NOT what happened. Helle was ordered out on Wednesday, December 24; the UN said nothing, even when Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesman, on UNTV, about it. So then on December 25 a higher UN official was thrown out.

* - What kind of spokesperson is "not authorized to speak to the media"?

  The UN's own cover ups and silences are part of the story. Watch this site.


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