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On Sudan Ousters, Now UN Speaks, As Didn't on UNFPA, Nor UNHCR

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 30, 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.

  On December 30, after a UN Security Council consultations from which nothing came, Inner City Press on behalf of the Free UN Coalition for Access asked the UN:

"This is a request that Deputy SG Eliasson or someone else from the Secretariat hold a press availability on Sudan's decision to expel Yvonne Helle (which I asked about at the December 24 noon briefing) and Ali Al-Za'tari... I understood the DSG to say he would not be speaking afterward since it was consultations. But a media availability by the Secretariat, ideally the DSG but another if necessary, later this afternoon is being requested, including on behalf of the Free UN Coalition for Access."

   UN Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq replied in the negative:

"Regarding your request for a press availability, yes, the Deputy Secretary-General said that he would not speak at the stakeout, given that the Security Council had held consultations. The views he expressed were in keeping with what we have been saying on Sudan, including in the 25 December SG statement:

'The Secretary-General condemns the Government of Sudan's decision to expel the United Nations Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator and the Country Director of the United Nations Development Programme. The sanctioning of United Nations personnel sent to Sudan to carry out their duties in accordance with the United Nations Charter is unacceptable. The Secretary-General calls on the Government of Sudan to reverse its decision immediately and urges it to cooperate fully with all United Nations entities present in Sudan.'"

 Later on December 30, minutes before the UN Security Council was to vote on the draft Palestine resolution, the UN put this out:

Note to Correspondents – in response to questions on Sudan

The Secretary-General’s strongly critical position on the expulsion from Sudan of the Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator (RC/HC) and UNDP Country Director is clear.

Departure of these key senior United Nations officials would constitute a serious loss for the humanitarian and development community in Sudan at a time when humanitarian needs are growing and the country faces significant development challenges.

The United Nations has been engaging the Government of Sudan at several levels to obtain a reversal of its decision.  It is essential that the United Nations can continue to carry out its crucial duties in the country. The Government has agreed to extend the deadline for the RC/HC's departure from 2 January until the end of the month. Discussions on this issue continue.

The United Nations remains committed to a productive and fruitful working relationship with the Government of Sudan for the benefit of its people, on the basis of respect of sovereignty. The United Nations counts on the full cooperation of the Government of Sudan in enabling all UN entities and their leadership to carry out their important work.

"  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.

   (Inner City Press is told by sources that Sudan's Permanent Representative exchanged words with a Security Council members PR on December 30, we hope to have more on this.)

  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.


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