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At UN, Sudan's Darfur and Two Areas Eclipsed, "Not Upbeat," Rice Tells ICP

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 20, updated -- With aid yet to be delivered to Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan, the UN Security Council got a closed door briefing on the two Sudans from UN envoy Haile Menkerios on Thursday morning. Normally after such a session a summary is given to the press. But not this time.

  Instead, some delegations coming out told Inner City Press that the briefing was upbeat, in the run up to a planned meeting between Presidents Bashir and Kiir on September 23.

  US Ambassador Susan Rice stopped to speak with Inner City Press on Thursday afternoon. She said the briefing had not been upbeat with regard to the Two Areas -- that is, Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile.

  Sudan continues to blame the delay on the UN, as well as African Union and Arab League, saying they missed three meetings scheduled in Khartoum.

  Sudan's Permanent Representative told Inner City Press on Wednesday, after his speech on Children and Armed Conflict, that he had written a letter of complaint to top UN humanitarian Valerie Amos.

   Even lower down the UN food chain as this year's General Debate approaches is Darfur.

   At Thursday's UN noon briefing Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky why the UNAMID mission does not routinely report of military clashes, for example this week between the army and SLM-MM in Jebel Marra, and if Ban would be addressing Darfur in any of his mini summit meetings over the next week.

   Nesirky said he would check with UNAMID -- which he said is in capable hands, though Ibrahim Gambari's replacement has yet to be named -- and mentioned the mini summit on Sudan and South Sudan, set for September 27. But what about Darfur?

From the UN's September 20, 2012 transcript:

Inner City Press: there’s been a report of renewed fighting between the Sudan Liberation Movement-Minni Minawi and the Government in Jebel Marra in Darfur, and I wanted to know whether the UNAMID [African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur] mission is aware of it, whether they can confirm it; and I guess, relatedly, the US Special Envoy on Darfur, Mr. [Dane] Smith, has said in an interview that the security situation in Darfur has deteriorated in the last 12 months. Does the UN system agree with that, and is there a reason that they are not reporting on clashes that take place within their zone of protection?

Spokesperson Nesirky: Well, first of all, you hear from me periodically when I have the information available, either sitting right here, or subsequently, once we have that information on clashes or other incidents and developments in Darfur. So I am sure that if there have been further developments that UNAMID — the United Nations-African Union mission in Darfur — can let us know about, then I am sure that we will be able to do that. So that’s the first point. The second is that nobody is suggesting that everything is going in the right direction it needs to. And there has been progress, but obviously not enough. So again, if UNAMID have anything further, then we’ll let you know.

Inner City Press: I appreciate that. The other thing I wanted to know is whether this mini-summit or summit on Sudan, South Sudan will in any way, or any of the events taking place in the coming week, involving the Secretary-General, is going to address Darfur; and what’s the progress of replacing Mr. [Ibrahim] Gambari? I know the current head of UNAMID is in an acting role. Is there some deadline for that? Is there going to be any movement on that in the week that all these AU [African Union] and other Heads of State are here?

Spokesperson Nesirky: I am not aware at the moment when an announcement will be made on a successor to Mr. Gambari. But the mission is obviously in capable hands at the moment, as always. And I am sure that the meetings that you refer to — both the bilateral meetings in this context and the important high-level meetings that will take place on this topic — they will form a key part of what is happening during the general debate period. It is obvious that there is strong international attention on the need to resolve the differences between Sudan and South Sudan, and also to handle the real difficulties that there are with access in the Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile States, and obviously also to deal with refugee flows from there into South Sudan. So these are all topics that the international community is concerned about, and it is precisely why the General Assembly at this period becomes an extremely important venue to be able to tackle these matters at the highest possible level and try to move things forward.

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