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Sudan Blocks UN Peacekeeping Mission's E-mail Access, UN Remains Silent

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, February 8 -- Sudan's National Telecommunication Corporation began last week blocking e-mail access for United Nations staff of the UN Mission in Sudan. Why the UN has allowed the Sudanese government to run the UNMIS website is unclear, although Inner City Press' sources in Sudan note that UNMIS is unique in allowing even coded cables to be handled by national staff. A Permanent Five Security Council member diplomat interviewed Friday by Inner City Press calls Sudan's web-mail blocking "an outrage," and questions why the UN is given such censorship and monitoring power to the al-Bashir government.

            As of the evening of February 8, UN staff who attempted to access their e-mail through were informed that "Sorry , this page has been blocked by National Telecommunication Corporation... If you want to block other sites please click here... Please visit or send your comment and suggestions to" Click here to view the site, click here for cached version in case changed.

UNMIS computer room - no more e-mail address

            In other UN peacekeeping missions, the Internet servers are controlled by the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations. Why, in Sudan, is the government given control over Internet communications? To the blocked UNMIS staff, it seems similar to the UN granting Sudan the right to veto particular troop contributing countries. The UN's silence in the face of censorship seems similar to the UN's failure to loudly call for the execution of the International Criminal Court warrants for war criminals in Sudan, including recently granted a high government position.

            A recent Congressional inquiry into the UN Development Program's operations in Kim Jong-il's North Korea found that UNDP did nothing while UN officials' homes were searched by the government, and all communications monitored. A UNDP whistleblower had to travel outside of North Korea to even file a complaint with headquarters. Now in the UN's Mission in Sudan, even e-mail access is blocked. And what will the UN do about it? If the recent past is any guide, nothing. Watch this site.

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These reports are 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

  Because a number of Inner City Press' UN sources go out of their way to express commitment to serving the poor, and while it should be unnecessary, Inner City Press is compelled to conclude this installment in a necessarily-ongoing series by saluting the stated goals of the UN agencies and many of their staff. Keep those cards, letters and emails coming, and phone calls too, we apologize for any phone tag, but please continue trying, and keep the information flowing.

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Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

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UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540