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On Syria UN Dodges on NZ Observers, Hypes Visit of Chemical Weapons Prober

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 26 -- For two days in a row, Inner City Press has asked the UN about New Zealand pulling its personnel serving with the UN out of Syria and the Golan “area of responsibility” and into Israel.

  And still, the UN has not answered about the pull-out, even as it promotes in advance Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's Monday meeting with his chemical weapons prober Ake Sellstrom, who Ban has summoned to fly to New York, green house gasses notwithstanding.

  On April 25, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky:

Inner City Press: on Syria, New Zealand has said that its peacekeepers on UNDOF must withdraw from, they said, Syria and only be based in Israel. Is that the UN is aware of and what does it portend for UNDOF?

Spokesperson Nesirky: I’ll check on precisely what the picture is there. UNDOF has troop contingents and it also has some staff officers and indeed some civilians who work in smaller numbers, of course, than the actual troop contingents within UNDOF. So let me check on that for you. I don’t have that at hand right now.

  Twenty four hours later and having received no answer (just as it received no answer to its question about Ban meeting former French president Nicolas Sarkozy despite the meeting being set for April 26, click here for that), Inner City Press asked again about the New Zealand pull-out.

  Video here, from Minute 15: Can you confirm they've been accommodated and moved to Israel?

  Nesirky said "they belong to UNSOA, they are military observers, I'm trying to ascertain their precise location at this point, they are in the area of responsibility of UNDOF."

  Not anymore: it's reported that “two Kiwi peacekeepers, who were both working for the United Nations, were shot at on the Syrian side of Golan Heights last month. They have since been moved to Israel...The security scares have prompted New Zealand to tell the UN that it will no longer allow it's peacekeepers to stay in the war-torn nation due to the security threat being too high.”

  So New Zealand told this to the UN. But even hours after the second, April 26 noon briefing, this is what the UN sent to Inner City Press:

Subject: Your question on Golan
From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply [at]
Date: Fri, Apr 26, 2013 at 3:42 PM
To: Matthew.Lee [at]
Cc: Martin Nesirky [at]

We can confirm that there are four military observers from New Zealand, who are members of the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), currently serving in Observer Group Golan, which is operationally integrated in the UN Disengagement Observer Group (UNDOF).

  This is only on the bureaucracy, “ operationally integrated” into Herve Ladsous' UNDOF -- nothing about New Zealand ordering the UN, and the UN agreeing, to pull its military observers out of Syria.

  Why play hide the ball, while hyping up Ake Sellstrom's flight to New York on Monday? Watch this site.

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