As UN Council Meets, NGOs' Eviction
from Darfur Called "Only the First Step," Bashir Indictment Freeze
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of
Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
NATIONS, March 6 -- With
African Union and Arab League diplomats headed to New York to lobby the
Security Council for a suspension of the indictment against Sudan's
al-Bashir, the Council met Friday about Bashir's expulsion of NGOs
Darfur. The percentage of the humanitarian work in Darfur impacted by
expulsion order varied by source. The UN's Catherine Bragg, who
noon press availability and postponed it until after the Council's
afternoon session, put the figure at 50%.
Costa Rica's Ambassador Jorge Urbina, on the other
hand, said he'd head
the figure was closer to 70%. Inner City Press asked Ambassador Urbina,
camera, to comment on the NGOs departure from Sudan.
He declined, but off camera said
"something must be done." Asked if the harm to civilians would make
Costa Rica re-think its opposition to suspending the indictment of
Footage from Khartoum showed al-Bashir dancing with
a crowd and
apparently little security. We will not back down, he told the crowd.
the new Sudan.
At a diplomatic luncheon Friday for Ghana, Inner
City Press asked a
range of Ambassadors about the situation in Sudan. While most spoke off
record, the representative of the Holy See said he disagreed that the
indictment would make peace talks less likely. Look at South Sudan, he
Even after the death of John Garang, the talks continued. Bashir has
power for nearly 20 years.
But now the Justice and Equality Movement says it
will not negotiate
with a war criminal. Were these foreseeable impacts thought out? Will
the one serving breakfast in Nyala?
On the way into the Council, a senior Sudanese
diplomat stopped and told Inner City Press that "our people" say the
meeting is about the requests for suspension from the AU and Arab
League. They are member states, he said, they should come before the
NGOs. All of this could have been avoided, he said. This is only the
first step. We have nothing to lose.
Beginning with this quote, we
will endeavor to live-blog outside the Council's closed door session.
Chinese engineers unload in Darfur: breakfast
kits and referral veto not shown
his way into the meeting, Austria's Ambassador stopped to say that the
UN taking over the humanitarian programs in Darfur is "unrealistic,"
and that Austria would not support any suspension of the indictment, as
they believe in the rule of law, the fight against impunity and the
independence of the court. He was asked, since Sudan could only be
prosecuted due to the Council's 2005 vote to refer the case, if the
Council couldn't not ask for deferral. That would be even more
problematic, he answered, saying that the court proceeding must proceed.
4:09 p.m. -- in a
rambling stakeout interview, Sudan's Ambassador said he has a
"dossier" of proof against each of the 13 expelled NGOs. He said that
the International Rescue Committee, for example, "has an MOU with the
and that other NGOs "use their planes to fly supposed victims to
Paris." One reporter suggested that he return to the stakeout Monday at
a.m. with the dossier. You can come to my office, the Sudanese
adding to the crowd, but he better be careful, he might have a heart
the evidence is so strong.
Reporters laughed, some cringed. Inner City Press
asked if these 13 NGOs
are being allowed to continue operations in South Sudan. I don't know
have operations in the South, the Ambassador said. Inner City Press
Sudan would think of Bill Frist as the US Special Envoy for Darfur.
That is a
US decision, he said, adding that Sudan would prefer an "upgraded" US
Ambassador in Khartoum, and might not allow in a new US Special Envoy.
will happen Monday at 10 a.m. is not known. Even Friday afternoon, the
4:35 p.m. -- France's
Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert came to the stakeout, saying among other
that if Sudan does not reverse its position, Kalma camp and another may
of water in 48 hours. Inner City Press asked him if France thinks the
is a violation of international humanitarian law or implicates the
Responsibilility to Protect (which France's Bernard Kouchner has said
he invented). Yes, Ripert said, we think
this violates the
law, and we've said that in the Council, asking members to act on their
commitments made in January to support international humanitarian law.
Will there be a written statement, then? A draft is
But it seems clear that several members will not sign onto anything
not raise the suspension of the indictment of Bashir.
4:54 p.m. -- UK
Ambassador John Sawers came to the stakeout out and, long story short,
there would be no Council statement. A British reporter said NGOs
"grotesque." Sawers explained that one of the Permanent members
insisted on references to the ICC. He
said that Russia would have been willing to sign on to some reasonable
statement. So call it China -- which, like the US, hasn't spoken at the
Inner City Press asked Sawers if the expulsion was
if any contingency planning had been done. You can't plan for
said, adding that no one saw the NGOs as connected to the ICC. No one?
5:35 p.m. -- the UN's
Catherine Bragg emerged, and her spokeswoman Stephanie Bunker said
she's had a
long day and has other engagements, so will take only three questions.
asked about the capacity of national NGOs, and spoke of trying to
thousand some humanitarian workers. She dropped the estimate of
humanitarian services to 40%.
City Press asked if it's true that Kalma
camp and one other will run out of water in 48 hours. Ms. Bragg said
situation is serious, as the NGO providing water and sanitation in
is being expelled. She said "we" are trying to pick up the
slack. Inner City Press asked, does that
mean the UNAMID peacekeepers? I don't have the details, she said. For
second day in a row, she did not answer if the NGOs being expelled have
operations, and if they will continue, in South Sudan.
Update of 6:05 p.m. -- the Libyan
president of the Council for March came out, speaking of a "high
level" delegation from the African Union and League of Arab States
will come to the Council to argue for a suspension of the indictment
Article 16 of what he called the "Roma Statute." Inner City Press
asked if the threat of African Union members which have joined the OCC
un-joining came up in the Council. No, but there is a meeting of such
to reconsider their membership, he said.
Since the AU / Arab League delegation would come
until March 16 or so,
in part due to the Council being in Haiti next week, Inner City Press
about the report that the Kalma camp will run out of water in 48 hours.
Libyan Ambassador said this was a "detail," that it might be true if
the water came in bottles, but if the water is in wells, it will not
out. We'll see if it's a detail...
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